What? No pubbing this week? No, sad to say, no pubbing this week. I have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to sample two locals but the illness of Willow has meant that it would be impolitic to go out on the tiles and sample ales. Instead, of course, I shall stay in and sample a single ale. Uh... Brownie points are in minus figures I would guess. Ten points from Hufflepuff. Poor badgers.
Also, last night Derby County lost to Leeds United. This happened in football. I have a passing frame of reference, I once saw Manchester United play some people and briefly flirted with the idea of supporting Tottenham Hotspur because I liked the name Jurgen Klinsmann. So I had to try and level that playing field a little by trying Quint Essential from Derby Brewing Co. that I picked up for a princely sum from our local supermarket.
Are you sure you wish to plunge on after my last Belgian beer review waxed lyrical about something as mundane as a standard Duvel? You are? Oh, good, make yourself comfortable and don't mind the toys left on the floor from the children.
The label is orange and promises a light, crisp and citrus golden ale. Opening confirms this with nary a hiss of carbon dioxide and an aroma of faint oranges. A closer inspection of the nose reveals oranges are the main thread but, mustered around like some roving pack of knights errant, there are also peach and something faintly tropical - pineapple? The colour is definitely golden too and, in the light of my living room, it looks almost orange to match the bouquet. Immediately creates a frothy head that reminds me of the cream soda stuff for soda stream when one added ice cream on a summer's day, but this dies back to something that would more usually grace a pint. Carbonation is consistent but not over-powering and stops short of being too commercial.
First taste is fruity, definite start from the hops that is laced with a soft citrus, like you'd get in an actual orange juice, but crisp like apple juice as well. There's a hit from the yeast carried on the very slight sense of the bubbles as they rise speedily through the affair but this gets carried swiftly away as it rolls over the tongue and briefly imparts the hints of a soft and gentle malt. The main story remains that hops though as it spills down the gunnels and into the aftertaste, where we are met by the mighty bittering hops, still carrying that orange sense of citrus, and then it's gone. I'll admit that the taste is cleverly done and does leave you wanting more. At 5% ABV this is no slouch and yet it feels pleasant and careful, like it won't harm you too much if you decide to session it (though, if you do, I'll wager that delicate head of hops won't last too long).
This brewery has been rather kind to me when I have tried it in the past with Business As Usual and Old Intentional (here) both having been under my microscope. The former was an unexpectedly strong contender against Black Sheep Bitter here and perhaps that is nice given the football result last night. Nevertheless, this one has made me happier than the other two. I can see why this is a new brew and I can see myself having this again if the opportunity arises. It is a thirst-quenching ale that sits well at this time of year, being automatically chilled, but I expect it to be a much better summer or spring ale - there's something about the hops and the body that just lends itself to that sunny day when the heat isn't so bad, there are dappled shadows and you can smell the pollen on the air. Or, if you have hayfever, that day when you're indoors looking out at an idyllic garden. Not ours. I suck at mowing the lawn, it currently resembles the fauna in Jurassic Park.
Enjoy this best as an accompaniment to a salad or something light and crunchy with a minimum of oil, outside in a wooden chair with the faint smell of creosote in the air. There may be bees buzzing in the flowers nearby, you may have that lovely aroma of tomato emanating from the nearby plants and a sure knowledge that you will cut the grass soon so that the kids can actually play football without losing shoes and balls in the process. Sparrows flit nearby, there's a seagull of some description wheeling in the air above and the hint of a breeze pushes the leaves of a nearby silver birch. Sigh. And then drink a second.