17 July 2017

Tyke tins

Following on from the review of Northern Monk's Hop City a few weeks ago, more cans of pale ale in the modern fashion, from Yorkshire.

I started with this one from Magic Rock, called Fantasma. It's 6.5% ABV, and brewed with just Magnum and Citra hops so I was expecting rather more than the previous softy. It gets off to a fruity start, however, wafting out aromas of mango, peach and slightly greener spinach. The bitterness reasserts itself in the flavour, however, with a sharp lime and dry grass kick in the foretaste, fading to reveal dank weedy resins and savoury yeast bite. The intensity is tempered a little by a full and soft texture, one which manages to muffle the screechiest parts of the hop profile rather than spread them into full-on hop napalm as sometimes happens with other big bodied and highly hopped IPAs.

To my mind, Fantasma is a fairly classical expression of the pale and bitter west coast IPA, though I think it would benefit from a little cleaning up. It's perhaps a little harsh for my snowflake of a palate, but in a world where IPA is increasingly retreating into soft and fluffy safe spaces it will definitely find a fanbase among the dedicated hopheads. Oh, it's also gluten free, but doesn't taste any way compromised for that.

Moving over to Leeds next, and Piñata, a mango and guava pale ale by North Brewing. It's a strikingly opaque orange colour with a pleasant fresh fruit aroma which could easily be all hop. The flavour continues in that vein, bright and juicy with the mango particularly prominent, but also with a bitterer green edge, very similar to the spinach element I found in the Fantasma. It definitely integrates the added fruit well into the flavour, avoiding the tangy clangy syrupy thing I often find in this sort.

Where it falls down a little is in the body, which is unreasonably thin, despite the addition of oats to the grist. Those lovely hop flavours aren't given enough of a stage to perform on and after the initial bright flash they fade out much too quickly leaving a watery wake. Yes the beer is refreshing and complex, but I definitely think that giving it a bit more heft and raising the ABV above 4.5% would improve it hugely.

And finally back to Northern Monk, and a surprise can of fruited IPA that passed my way at a Social Hops meet-up in The Bernard Shaw a while back. This is 4.02 and is part of the brewery's Patrons Project, a 7.4% ABV IPA with added pineapple and grapefruit. It doesn't look strong: a wan lemon yellow, and hazy, of course. There's a spritzy, zesty aroma: all the Z's are in here. The texture is pleasantly smooth, almost creamy, and there's an oiliness that creeps into the flavour adding a degree of coconut to the citrus. Pithy bitterness is the centrepiece, however, as well as a mild resinous dankness. I wasn't hugely impressed by this: it's decently put together but there's nothing amazing about it. There are lots of IPAs just as good without the fancy artwork or high price tag. Not that I paid for this one: cheers Conor!

Doubtless there's plenty more to come from all three of these breweries, for as long as there are hops to play with.