04 January 2017

Any port

Last time I was up north I acquired this pair in the supermarket. Sailor Town is a Belfast-based brand, implicitly referencing the city's docklands, though I'm reliably informed the brewing takes place at Carrig Brewing in Co. Leitrim. The front label is a little unhelpful in telling you what you're getting as one is simply labelled "Beer" and the other "Pale". Fortunately there's a bit more information around the back.

Sailor Town Beer, it turns out from the tiny paragraph on the rear label, is a Saaz-driven pilsner purportedly in the Czech style. That's a big claim for such small print. It pours a slightly hazy medium-yellow with desultory effort at a head. There's a vague vegetable aroma, like celery or green beans, and the flavour is sweet, heavy on the golden syrup without much balancing hop. It lacks the proper pilsner bite and this isn't helped by the very low carbonation and thick texture. After the initial disappointment I was able to appreciate that all the elements of first-rate pils are present to some extent, they're just not in the right proportions. In short: needs more hops. It's inoffensive, though. Down the hatch it went and on to...

Sailor Town Pale. This one is a richer, darker colour and gives off a pleasant marmalade spice as it pours. A proper sniff yields a lot more toffee, however, which is worrying. New Zealand hops, says the label: the words "refreshing" and "dry" are both employed. It is neither of those things. It doesn't taste as sweet as the aroma implied but I definitely get a serious amber ale vibe from it. There's that sensation of caramelised crystal malt, peppered with high-alpha hops, only not enough of them for balance in this case. I picked up a certain quantity of tannin as well, lurching the whole contraption over towards English bitter. Amber ale, bitter, even Irish red: there's bits of all of them here and none of it impresses.

I got a serious whack of lowest-common-denominator from these two, which I know has a solid and lucrative demographic, but neither floated my boat.

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