25 July 2018

Exotic species

Well this was odd. Taking a shortcut through a central Dublin Spar, I glanced at the beer selection and spotted two unfamiliar stubbies. On stopping to inspect, they turned out to be from Finnish contractor Hartwall, under its Polar Monkeys brand, brewed in Denmark at Albani Bryggerierne in Odense, a subsidiary of industrial brewer Royal Unibrew. They were presumably acquired as a job lot since they were nearing the expiry and being sold off for €2.50 a bottle. Deal!

The first I opened was Blue Collar amber lager. It proved paler than expected, but also more delicious. There's a gently sweet melanoidin malt base which is then layered up with lemon sherbet, white pepper and orange peel. Though a full 5% ABV, cold from the fridge I found it suberbly refreshing, yet complex, mixing up new and old world flavours on a tightly-constructed base with no room for flaws. That it was past its point of optimal freshness is bizarre because it tasted bang on. Had I started with a fresh one I can't imagine how it could have been better.

White Collar professes to be a golden ale, though looked more amber to me. This one is even sweeter than the lager, billowing with soft toffee. The hopping is tokenistic, serving a mild metallic twang but not much else, and even that blends into a kind of burnt caramel note that all but neutralises it. While not actively offensive, it's heavy and hard work, devoid of refreshment and quite sickly.

It's rare to get two beers from similar-looking bottles that are so different in character. Danish macros do lager, I guess. Perhaps it's a mistake to try and teach them other tricks.

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