Jeff Evans back with his bimonthly beer review.
RUDGATE PILSNØR, 4.7%
The quality of lager brewed in Britain was once a joke, but it has improved dramatically in recent years as illustrated by this latest offering from Rudgate in North Yorkshire.
The name of this crystal clear, golden “English pilsner” is a play on its northern roots but the inspiration is wholly German and, I would suggest from the dryness of the finish, specifically northern German.
I love the delicate lemon and herb notes in the inviting aroma and these also feature in the big, satisfying taste where the Slovenian hops add a perfumed note and a good solid smack of bitterness that continues long into the finish. One of my favourite new beers of the year so far but, as Rudgate brews a former Camra Champion Beer of Britain in Ruby Mild, that shouldn’t be a surprise.
WILD BEER ROLL WITH IT, 5%
As the brewer’s name suggests, Wild Beer is not afraid to experiment, particularly when it comes to mixed fermentation beers. I can’t say I was too wild myself about the concept of this particular creation, which is described as a medieval apple saison and a beer to drink with sausage rolls, but I was very impressed once I opened the can.
The aroma is faintly tart with a honeyed floral note and the added apple juice nicely hidden. The fruit remains restrained in the crisp and softly sour taste and also in the nicely dry, gently acidic finish in which bitterness becomes more forceful. Wild yeast notes add their own dryness and exotic character throughout and there’s also just a touch of smoky caramelisation from the use of hot rocks in part of the mash. There’s a lot going on here but in a clever, downplayed way.
ROOSTER EASY-GOING ASSASSIN, 4.3%
One of this Yorkshire brewery’s most successful beers is called Baby-Faced Assassin, a succulent 6.1% abv American IPA that, as the name suggests, catches out a lot of drinkers with its hidden strength. That problem goes away somewhat with this new beer, one of a series of brand extensions that has also included New England Assassin, Double Assassin and Barrel-Aged Assassin.
Easy Going Assassin offers the same juicy, fragrant Citra hop notes as its parent beer – grapefruit, apricot and floral – but in an easier-to-handle package delivering just 4.3% abv.
It’s a fine, very full-flavoured American-style session IPA, constructed to the same recipe as the mother brew but scaled back in strength, with a dry, lip-smacking hoppy finish that has the tang and bitterness of fresh citrus pith.
SIMPLE THINGS FERMENTATIONS BIG IDEAS SERIES NO 28, 6.8%
Earlier this year, I wrote here about a beer from Glasgow’s Simple Things Fermentations.
Well, brewer Phil Sisson deserves another mention, not just for another solid beer but also for his sense of humour. The beer this time is a double dry-hopped IPA featuring Amarillo, Simcoe and Citra hops, and it’s with the hops that Sisson has had a bit of fun, sending out a press release with the shock headline “New brewery survives 2.5 years without using Citra!”.
The American hop is now so widely used that it’s hard to believe any new brewer would ignore it, but Sisson has done just that until now and somehow managed to keep afloat. Now he feels the time is right to dip into the mainstream and he’s produced an ale brimful of luscious hops.
This can-conditioned beer is fresh, bright and loaded with notes of tangerine and grapefruit, with a little warmth to underline the strength, and a shatteringly dry finish to draw you back for more.