In the latest beer review, Jeff Evans appraises four recently released beers
71 BREWING BLACKCURRANT APPLE CRUMBLE, 6.5%
I love a sour beer, by which I usually mean traditional sours such as Rodenbach Grand Cru. This new offering from 71 Brewing in Dundee might seem like anathema to me and others who have more traditional drinking preferences, but I am pleased to say this is a very well-made drop of beer.
Yes, it’s contrived to give the impression of the fruit dessert in the name but it does that admirably without any nasty adjunct flavours and, more to the point, it’s properly sour right from the first sip, so there’s no sugary cloyingness in evidence at any time. Would I choose it over a classic like Rodenbach? No, I wouldn’t, but I’m sure the brewers wouldn’t expect that.
They’re catering for a different market here and have delivered what they set out to achieve perfectly.
HALL & WOODHOUSE BADGER OUTLAND MILK STOUT, 5.2%
Hall & Woodhouse joins the craft beer revolution with its new Outland range of canned beers. There are three declared so far, although one, West Coast IPA, is to follow in the autumn.
Available now are Ginger Pale Ale (5%), which is filled with earthy, lemony ginger character, without burning the palate and throat with spicy warmth, and this interesting milk stout. I say “interesting” because this deep mahogany-coloured beer has a distinctive coconut flavour which marries rather well with tart, coffee-like notes from the dark grains.
There’s a light vanilla creaminess at all times, as you’d expect from the style, but this is not as sweet or chunky as many milk stouts, with the body rather slender and those tart dark grains adding a bitter bite throughout.
TIMOTHY TAYLOR HOPICAL STORM, 4%
The regional brewery push for a share of the craft beer market continues in Keighley, where Timothy Taylor has launched this “triple-hopped pale ale”.
The first thing to note is that anyone expecting a mighty rush of hops will be rather disappointed, but hops don’t need to trample all over the palate to be effective, as this golden beer proves. A mixture of English and American hops are clearly in the ascendancy but they are also measured and nicely balanced. Sharp and grassy on the palate, they offer grapefruit, mandarin and passion fruit to marry with smooth sweetness from the malt, before a lean, dry and bitter finish with a pithy note.
Basically, unless you’re a committed hophead who demands American hops in full cry, you’ll enjoy this. It’s crisp, clean, light bodied and very easy to drink.
JIDDLER’S TIPPLE/ BY THE HORNS QUENCHER COLD IPA, 5.5%
I like it when brewers show invention but retain subtlety at the same time, which is why this new joint venture between two London breweries drew me in. This beer showcases hops and packs an alcoholic punch, but somehow remains delicate and – as the name suggests – quenching.
Part of the trick is to add rice to the malt mix and to ferment with a lager yeast for a less complex body and a cleaner finish. The other key element is to choose the right New World hops – Nelson Sauvin, El Dorado and Simcoe – that deliver flowery aromatics and tropical flavours without saturating the palate.
The result is a beer with a green-golden hue and a fairly sweet taste laced with grassy hops, grapefruit, juicy melon and some floral notes but with only a moderate bitterness. The finish is very dry – a little too dry, perhaps? – but, in keeping with the rest of the beer, refreshingly not too full on.