Friday evening. Work done for the week. Three friends have an event to attend elsewhere in town later but they meet in The Beer Market. It's a nicely flexible drinking space: you can session on pints if you like; you can buy something exclusive and spendy too, and the 33cl servings that most things arrive in are useful for co-ordinating the timing around the table.
One reveller goes for Summer Spreeze, brewed by Siren with input from Evil Twin. It's a lightweight session IPA at 3.8% ABV with additions of coffee and jasmine green tea because somebody thought that was a good idea. They don't contribute much, thankfully: a slight sweaty coffee note in the aroma and some mild jasmine spice, but then it's over to the hops, in a big way. No citrus, however: instead there's a heavy resinous dank and savoury garlic. It doesn't sound great but works really well and it's oily enough to pass for a beer almost twice its strength, with no trace of thinness or harshness. An odd twist on session IPA to be sure, but a fun one.
Another was drinking Fourpure's Burnt Ends, a smoked porter. The caramelised aroma of this smells like the burnt outer bits of barbecued meats, ie irresistibly delicious. At 5.8% ABV it's quite a big, dense beast but this gives it a lusciously smooth texture. Beyond the smoke, of which there is plenty, there's a quite simple chocolate and treacle sweetness of the sort that might make another strong porter cloying or difficult, but the smoke helps dry it out here and the end result is delicately balanced and very classy with it. I don't always appreciate Fourpure's offerings but this one is right in my wheelhouse.
Somebody thought it would be a safe bet to order Founders Nitro IPA, bless them and their innocence. Though perhaps I'm being unfair: Founders does turn out some very good hop-forward beers and maybe they know enough about it to not let one be ruined by the enemy within of beer flavour, nitrogen gas. But no, this is an absolute travesty, tasting all gloopy and soapy, like lemon washing up liquid. Hop flavours do their best work when they're distinct, separate and clean. This just smooshes everything together into a thick mess with a sharp edge yet not even properly bitter. Craft and nitro: just stop it. Stop it now.
And because the first one to arrive had finished his drink while the others were still only half way through, I... I mean, he, gets to have another. Back to Siren again, and Proteus, a pale ale. Only 4% ABV but a whopping €6 for a 33cl glass. It needed to be amazing at that price but unfortunately it wasn't. It's rather dark for a light pale ale, and that leads on to a thick syrupy texture with bags of toffee flavour. A bit of research tells me I'm to expect Motueka, Amarillo and Citra, with the emphasis on the first of these. But while Motueka often comes across as too sharply green for my tastes even that doesn't survive the malt onslaught so all that's left is a mere echo of indistinct hop fruit. Apparently this is version one of a series but I'm not sure I'll be buying a ticket to the sequels.
A nice mix of the good and the grim. Something to talk about on the way to the next engagement.
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