23 February 2018

Lervig in tha snug

On a dismal Saturday afternoon in late autumn, the Four Corners crew set up a tasting in the cosy surrounds of P. Mac's snug. Their guest for the day was Liam Devlin, who does sales for Norwegian brewer Lervig. Five new-to-me beers were in the line-up, but I also need to give a shout-out to the newly canned version of Perler for Svin IPA, tasting much brighter and cleaner than the mucky bottle I reviewed back here.

Our journey begins, perhaps appropriately, with Check In, another IPA. Cascade and Ahtanum are the hops; "feels like 1996" says the blurb. It's a medium orange colour and smells fresh and pithy. As billed, there's lots of biscuity malt, followed up with a swift smack of bitterness. Unlike many a '90s vintage IPA, however, it's light and spritzy, neither weighed down by crystal sugars nor scorching the palate with hop acids. The balance is excellent and the flavours subtle yet appreciable. Maybe 6% ABV is a bit on the strong side for something this easy going, though that's a minor complaint. A good start.

To follow, the unappetisingly named Mango Squirt. This is a sour ale with the titular fruit, and again with an ABV that's above the call of duty at 7%. It looks the part -- a deep Fanta-orange colour -- but I wasn't able to pick any specific fruit from the flavour, instead getting a kind of artificial fruity meld, like Jolly Rancher sweets. The sourness hits hard and fast, then disappears just as promptly, leaving it dry and crisp, almost like a prosecco, with candy overtones from the mango. It's fine, but underwhelming. I'd like a bigger bang given the strength.

Hop Drop Sour was more like it. This had a lovely complex mix of coconut and grapefruit juice, turning to sharper rind on the end. It's all beautifully melded together with the hops and sour components contributing to an overall integrated flavour instead of trying to dominate the picture. Once again, however, it's too strong. I could quaff this by the barrelful, but not at 6.5% ABV.

Something sessionable finally arrived in the form of Socks and Sandals, a pale ale of just 4.5% ABV. The peach skin aroma is promising but the watery texture and lacklustre flavour matches its anaemic yellow appearance. The hops do contribute a bitterness, big and quite harsh, while the central part of the flavour is the yeast: sharp and gritty. While not awful, it is a little dull, and not something I could imagine a session on.

They broke out the big guns to finish: Sippin' into Darkness, a sweet imperial stout brewed in collaboration with Ohio's Hoppin' Frog. The aroma is off the charts: a heady, creamy blast of rich tiramisu. I found the flavour to be a little more severe; unexpectedly so. It's sticky and sweet, and piles in the booze, beyond what might be expected at 12% ABV. A strong note of bitter and roasty espresso goes some way to offset the sugar and makes it an easier drinking experience. This definitely isn't a subtle beer, though I suppose it's not meant to be. There are worse examples of this kind.

It was great meeting Liam; he made an excellent sales pitch for Lervig's local beer festival, coming up in October. And thanks as always to the Four Corners team for another fun event.

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