20 July 2018

Drygate gate

I will freely admit that the packaging is what sold me on these two Drygate beers. Specifically, how breathtakingly similar their design is to that of Beavertown. Well, it's nice to have an angle for these posts. Drygate is the joint brewing operation of C&C Scotland (the Tennent's people) and Williams Brothers. You'd think that avoiding the charge of stealing craft beer's clothes would be high on their agenda but there you are. Mind you, events since this post was first drafted mean they're pretty much as independently craft as Beavertown now.

The lesser offender is Chimera, an India pale lager. Williams already has a decent one of these in its portfolio, Caesar Augustus, so they know their way around the style. This one's high ABV of 5.9% is very apparent in the thick texture. It's soupy looking as well as tasting, so a clean hoppy lager is not what's on offer. Instead it's a gritty and pithy affair, full of oily orange and herbal bathsalts. There's nothing lagery at all about the downright greasy texture, but as an IPA it's not bad. I enjoyed the chewiness of it, while the flavour is big and punchy, layering on the fruit then finishing sharp. It took a bit of time to get used to but I was on board by the end.

Disco Fork Lift Truck mango pale ale is the one whose can looks like a direct rip-off of Neck Oil. It's clearer than the lager but still orange, and lighter at 5.1% ABV. There's a syrupy artificiality right from the get-go: a sharp sugary hit of fake fruit. Behind this there's a medium-bodied, low bittered, plain pale ale, almost touching on the cereal blandness of twiggy brown bitter. The mango gunk has very obviously been wheeled out front and centre to be the beer's headline quality, but it's just not good enough. It's trying to be fun and down-with-the-kids, but you need hops for that: syrup doesn't cut it.

Branding aside, these are largely what I expected from the Drygate project: passable supermarket beers, taking cues from smaller independents but not really executing them with the same panache. There's an argument here that such things are gateways (no pun intended) to better beer, but I think they're at least as likely to prevent the curious beer drinker from looking further afield than Sainsbury's.

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