I've been passing by the beers from Yorkshire brewery Vocation for ages now, for absolutely no good reason. The smart little cans are visually appealing and the beer is by all accounts quite good. I finally bit the bullet when browsing a Northern Irish Tesco late last year.
First out was Heart & Soul, a 4.4% ABV session IPA. The yeast had settled well to the bottom of this by the time I opened it but I still managed to carelessly harvest a few skeins as I poured. Still, the label copy says it's meant to be cloudy so maybe that's as the brewer intended. The extra haze didn't detract too much from the bright golden body and well-retained head. Per the official description, it does smell of tropical fruit, though on the bitter side: more guava than mango. The flavour is assertively bitter, with a ticklish peppery foretaste, the tropical middle and then a quite European metallic tang, more like a dry English bitter. As tends to happen with these sorts of beers it's a little bit thin and unbalanced, but I really enjoyed slamming through it, letting those buzzing hops slice up my thirst. Session indeed.
Moving up the scale, Pride & Joy is Vocation's American-style pale ale, a deeper shade of orange and 5.3% ABV. It smells heavier too, with the earthiness of Cascade coming through in the aroma. Tangy tangerine is the centre of the flavour, with a balancing pillow of soft bready malt. Accusations of over-sweetness are avoided with a sharply mouthwatering finishing bitterness. It's a rougher beer than the previous one: bigger and louder, but still highly enjoyable. What particularly struck me is how distinct each of the flavours is: it's very easy to pick out the individual elements of the recipe and I appreciate seeing a brewer giving this kind of consideration to the poor beleaguered beer critic. The influence of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is very obvious here and I'd love to try them side-by-side. It certainly has the same sort of classic American character.
As if it wasn't obvious where this was going, we finish on the full fat IPA Life & Death, another orange one and with an enticing fruit candy aroma. The flavour, conversely, is quite savoury, with touches of caraway and onion skin that make me think there's some Mosaic at large in here. It feels every unit of its 6.5% ABV too: thickly textured and with a bruising boozy heat in the aftertaste. A little more fruit nuance does creep out as it begins to warm, showing sharp grapefruit and lime in particular but also a lacing of juicy mandarin hidden in the depths. Add in a resinous dank and it's nearly all hops for all people. I didn't enjoy it as much as the others but I think that's down to personal taste: it is a very adept rendering of this sort of brash American IPA and it's not trying to be anything else.
Overall a pretty good showing from this lot. I'll definitely be less reticent when the next Vocation beer comes my way.
Franciscan Well Jameson Stout - *Origin: Ireland | Date: 2012 | ABV: 7.8% | On The Beer Nut: December 2012* It's getting warmer in the stash. 2017's summer break is not far away, I'd say....
1 week ago