This bottle of Naparbier's Mad Clown pale ale followed me home from the Alltech festival last month where it won Best Pale Ale in the competition there. They've badged it as an "extra" pale ale, and it's 5.7% ABV so I dunno why they didn't just call it an IPA and be done with it. Probably to cheat at beer competitions.
Anyway, I noticed lots of yeasty goop sloshing around at the bottom of the 33cl bottle so I made damn sure to pour carefully. I did quite well too, getting an almost totally clear dark orange glassful. While keeping my hand steady I couldn't help but notice the beautiful aroma coming from the pouring liquid. A closer sniff turned up gorgeous peach and mandarin fruit, just what I like in this kind of beer. The flavour didn't disappoint either. That sweet juiciness is the main element, from the first moment it touches the tongue and spreads outwards, tickling the salivary glands as it goes. It's helped on its way by a lovely smoothness: effervescent carbonation and the perfect amount of malt weight to give the hops room to do their thing. As the fresh juice fades it's replaced by a sterner bitterness, assertively piney and resinous. This leads to a metallic finish which would probably seem harsh in another beer but provides superb balance in this one.
"Mad Clown" is a childishly silly name for a classically-constructed pale ale, and I marvelled at every drop of it. That it might cross unrefined palates solely on account of the buyer deeming the label "awesome" does not bear thinking about.
A new range from Naparbier has just arrived into Ireland from their importers Proaddition, though I don't think Mad Clown is among them. Somebody should fix that.