The arrival of three canned American craft beers to UK budget pub chain JD Wetherspoon caused a bit of a stir among the UK beer bloggerati. Six Point in New York are well-regarded and have done several collaboration brews for Wetherspoon festivals in the past. Direct and exclusive shipment of their own product, at Wetherspoon prices, seemed a fair reason to get a little giddy.
We're still a few days away from Dublin's first JD Wetherspoon opening its doors but I caught up with these in The Standing Order, a vast former bank in Edinburgh New Town that now largely sells chips and WKD to stag and hen parties. On a busy afternoon I found what passed for a quiet corner and worked through the range.
I started on The Crisp, a fairly plain pilsner, if a little on the strong side at 5.4% ABV. The visuals are good: a fluffy white mousse on top; a slight haze to the gold below, to show that it's proper craft. They've paid careful attention to the specs for pilsner: there's the sharp, waxy green flavour of noble hops in a big way. Slightly metallic, but with a nice fresh crunchy spinach quality too. I tend to prefer a bit more of a rounded sweetness in my lager, but this is bang on for what it is. Not that I'd be ordering it again.
The inevitable IPA is called Bengali Tiger and is all of 6.4% ABV. Again with the haze. The smell was immediately off-putting, all toffee and swimming pools. Rather than thick and sticky like too many American IPAs, it's really quite thin. The flavour presents harsh acidity and oversweet toffee with no citrus or other late-hop fruity fun. A big disappointment for me here.
Lightest of the lot is Sweet Action at 5.2% ABV. The brewery deliberately avoids assigning a style to it, mentioning pale ale, cream ale and even wheat beer. It's certainly cloudy enough to be a wit: a veritable snowglobe of sediment rendering it opaque. But visuals aside, this beer is all about the green, starting with the spicy resin aroma and moving on to the bit of dank and lots of jaffa in the flavour. For all the hops it's not jarringly bitter and is instead smooth and very thirst quenching. As a mainstream non-aggressive introduction to what American hops do, it's up there with Goose Island IPA.
So coolly refreshing was the Sweet Action that the thought of going to the bar and selecting something warmer and less citrusy from the handpumps offered no appeal at all.
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