There were three beers new to me on the roster and I got my paddle duly loaded up on arrival. I started on the (I think) somewhat tortured German of Weisen Stout. It's meant as a hybrid between stout and weissbier and is a whopping 7.1% ABV. For the most part it resembles one of the strong Guinness variants: roasty, with a sharp sourness, and then a caramel and ester finish. If you'd told me it was Guinness Special Export I'd have believed you. There's just a slight, mild, waft of banana on the end to remind you there's some sort of novelty factor, but as usual with Guinness stouts, the essential Guinness flavour characteristics dominate the picture.
|L: Damson Plum Sour, R: Weisen Stout|
Down to the serious business, then, of the new Open Gate IPA, Third Strike. I had this next to a sample of the Nitro IPA but really there's no comparison. While Nitro is over-processed perfumey goop, Third Strike is a very decent take on English IPA, despite the advertised hops being Simcoe, Centennial and Hüll Melon. What gives it its character is a strong tannic quality, making it smell like a refreshing cup of black tea and giving the flavour a perfect, cleanly defined, edge. Then there's a major fresh and leafy hop character right in the centre, but it's more the firm crunchy veg you find in top-notch Yorkshire bitter than anything fruity and American. It's another one that's very happily pintable and I was shocked, and a little dismayed, to notice that the ABV is an unreasonable 6.8%. Like good bitter it's one I could quaff lots off, but that would be inadvisable.
Thanks as always to Padraig and the Open Gate crew for their hospitality.