It's been rather a long time since I tried anything from the Wychwood stable. My bruising experience with Forest Fruits (here) probably had something to do with that. However, on a trip to a less than local Co-Op whilst out at a large Hall with the family I picked up a selection of ales that I hadn't seen anywhere else.
Yes, along with a lovely chilli-con-carne (well, more chilli-con-funghi, it was Quorn mince) made by the lovely Willow, I am having some Wychcraft. It is thrice hopped too, much like the Hopping Hare (here), but makes less of that fact than its rival. Mind you, the gold foil on the bottle is similarly slightly green. maybe there's something in this odd colour choice...
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At 4.5% ABV it is a moderately strong hitter and, as a blonde ale, it ought go well with the rich tomato sauce provided by Coleman's for our evening meal. There's a definite amber colour to the ale as it's poured and the carbonation creates a frothy, and slightly mass-produced, head with a coppery tang to it. Mind you, the fizz in the ale itself seems to dissipate reasonably quickly which I think is a good thing. Aroma is there, definite tones of hops but nothing stand out or strong, and so one could argue that there is a delicate bouquet. Indeed, it very much brings home the fact that thrice-hopped means that I am incapable of working out with which hops it has been made.
First sip is fine, through the head, and there's a nice taste to it not unlike most good blonde ales. In fact, the dryness and the flavour put me in mind of Duvel (last had on a night out with some work colleagues and highly recommended by my companion at the time). The real kicker comes with the after-taste at first, as the coppery tang of the head pretty much dominates that first taste, and that is a pleasant dry bitterness that hangs around a bit to play with the food and with the air. Second and third sups are better, with a definite edge of citrus hops at the beginning and a low malt undertone. Nothing too strong or distinctive but holds its own against the strength of the chilli we were having.
Enjoy this with a meal, it is an ensemble member rather than a solo act. It worked well with the very spicy chilli and would probably make a solid friend to curries and Chinese food from a take out. Not a friend to quail (get that reference if you can) or fish. Although the first viewing seems amber this is deceptive as it is lighter than that, hence blonde, and very much inkeeping with the late Spring setting in which it was had. The sort of ale one would have with good and select company whilst enjoying a meal - it allows the flavours of the food to take centre stage and doesn't dominate proceedings.