18 July 2016

Double bubble

I only went looking for one Kinnegar special but came away with two. Win!

The bonus beer was the last bottle of Bucket & Spade on the shelves in Fresh in Smithfield. This is a session rye IPA, which is a new combo for me, at a bravely low 4% ABV. The appearance wasn't great: murky dark orange is rarely a good look for a beer. Its aroma makes up for it, though, bringing a heady and almost hot ripe mandarin with a touch of peppery spice in behind. Though there was enough of a stable head to lace the glass, the carbonation was low, making it extremely easy quaffing. It successfully avoids the session IPA thinness trap and tastes wonderfully full and rounded. Bitterness levels are also low and after the first mouthful I thought it was a little bland, but give it a moment and the mandarin and mango floods in and hangs around, deliciously unctuously. I got a bit of a yeast bite as the hops faded, but too little and too late to ruin a magnificent sessioner. Half a litre was gone in fifteen minutes and I wished I had another.

I didn't, so on to Sour Grapes, the one I'd been particularly looking forward to. It's another pale one, though clearer than the preceding beer and with a head that crackled itself to death soon after pouring. There's a distinct touch of sparkling wine about the aroma: the toasty richness of champagne and perhaps some sweeter prosecco fruit. That white grape element is very present on tasting as a subtle sort of sweetness. I was surprised to see no grapes listed on the ingredients so the effect is achieved with nothing other than barley, wheat, hops and yeast. The sour quality is secondary and it's little more than you'd find in a young acidic white wine. I've had Marlborough Sauvignon Blancs that were more tart than this. But, like the Bucket & Spade, it is very easy drinking, sharing the smoothness of champagne as well as its lightning-quick finish. With nothing weird or extreme going on, Sour Grapes exudes a genteel sort of class.

It's almost a shame that these two aren't part of the standard Kinnegar line-up. Sour Grapes in particular is the sort of thing we don't have enough of and would go just as well in a 75cl corked bottle as by the pint. But more Kinnegar specials are of course on the way and we must make room.

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