09 June 2017

Rocky three

A trilogy of beers from Colorado today, mostly ones that have been around a while that I'm only catching up to.

Mountain Standard, brewed for when the clocks change in the autumn, has a kind of built-in freshness indicator. I'm guessing you're not meant to be still buying it in April but there I was. It's a black IPA, and a big one at 8.1% ABV. Held up to the light it's more a red-brown colour than properly black. The hop aroma hasn't disintegrated entirely, still whispering hoarsely of grapefruit and pine. The flavour is happier, if no hoppier, with savoury caraway seed and spicy resinous frankincense. There's a little liquorice blackness but no trace of heat from the alcohol. Like most of Odell's hop-forward beers, then, it's balanced, complex and subtle. I'd love to try a fresh one but I guess that will have to wait.

My can of Priscilla, the Oskar Blues witbier, is of an even older vintage, packaged back in July. "Ale with spices" is all the label unhelpfully says, and that it's 5.2% ABV. It pours inauthentically clear though there's a rich and sweet fruit and herb aroma and flavour that's absolutely unmistakably Belgian. I get beautiful trilling high notes of clove rock, green banana, passionfruit and coconut, making what's often quite a plain style into a multifaceted jewel. I'd fault it only on the density and sweetness: both of these things start big then inflate further as the temperature goes up, the distinct complexities giving way to a sickly mush. Drink it cold for best results, is what I'm saying.

The time machine rolls ever backwards with this can of Oskar Blues IPA, the beer having been in there for just over a year when I got to it. I wonder when they stop selling it? This is a pale and hazy number, a light shade of orange even though the ABV is a weighty 6.43%. Unsurprisingly the aroma is severely lacking, smelling just of hard fruit candy. There's a mostly quite savoury cereal quality in the foretaste, glutinous porridge and a spinachy bitterness. I think I can see the gap where the bright and banging citrus hops are meant to go, but they're gone. Dry grain, hard bitterness and hot booze: all the hallmarks of a zombie IPA. I put this one out of its misery but felt sorry for it and its shelfmates left to rot like this.

Not the cheery note you expect when you come to shiny bright American beer cans but that's how it is. If reviews of less-than-lab-condition IPAs make you cringe, check the dates and take it up with the retailers, not me.

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