15 May 2017

Quirky Catalans

When I wrote about the Alltech Brews & Food Festival a few months ago, I mentioned that James from Alltech was kind enough to fill the gaps in my Barcelona Beer Company sampling with an armful of freebie bottles. Today, at long last, I'm getting them written about as well.

There's an endearing quirkiness in their artwork, enough to let me forgive the fact that the first one I opened doesn't have an ABV on the label. The brewery website tells me that Big Bear is 5% ABV. It's an amber-coloured pale ale which goes big on malt, all wholegrain bread and bourbon biscuit. There's enough of an old-world hop tang -- jaffa oranges and metal -- to give it the overall feel of an English bitter, and Young's Ordinary comes to mind in particular, though it's quite a while since I last tasted that. The extra weight from all that malt does mean it's not as quaffable as a typical bitter, but it's fine for slower drinking. Sometimes it's nice when a brewery which goes all-out with its yoof craft branding delivers a resolutely traditional-tasting beer. Psyche!

On to the IPAs next, and the first is Cerdos Voladores using prestige US hop varieties Amarillo and Centennial. The brewery says it's their "rowdiest" beer, though it seemed pretty lazy when I poured it, taking a bit of agitation to get a head on. It looks handsome, though, a deep orange with just a slight haze through it. There's no slacking in the aroma: it's fresh and punchy, all lime zest and juicy nectarine. It tastes quite sweet, but in the balanced sense, with the hops still to the fore. The acidic waxy citrus underlies everything and lasts the longest, but on top of that thumping rhythm is a melody of mandarin and mango. The low carbonation I complained about actually makes for really easy drinking and despite that palate-pounding bitterness and not-insubstantial 6% ABV, I could definitely see myself reaching for another of the same after finishing one.

High expectations, then, for what did come next: Miss Hops, Barcelona's "high IPA", though still the same ABV and only a slightly higher IBU level. It looks the same, and has a similar reticence about head formation, but is much less -- how shall I say? -- hoppy. The aroma is a gentle peach and honeydew with a warm undercurrent of alcohol beneath. The first flavour I got was quite savoury and dry, almost musty. There are bright notes of tangerine and a resinous dank, but it's all quite monotone and serious. After the blazing jollity of Cerdos Voladores I was really in the mood for something happier, something this very saturnine IPA didn't deliver.

Quite a rollercoaster there in just three beers but my overarching advice is plump for the pigs.

No comments:

Post a Comment