Sunday, 7 December 2014

Beer Review: Barry Island IPA

This has waited a long time, as it was part of the gift from when I was last in Leeds (link) and something of the powerfully hopped variety. So, on this rather bright day, I decided to actually have it with some food. It was poorly chosen food (that frozen chicken and mushrooms thing I did ages back) but food nevertheless. I refer, of course, to the ale that is referenced in the title up there: Barry Island IPA from Brains who, I suspect, are different to S. A. Brains as I can find no reference to the initials. However, by the same token, one assumes that there is some link. And I have been watching some Monty Python involving long rants so that may be affecting my writing style.

No pubbing again this week due to the fact that it is close to Christmas and so we've been oop North to see people and have only just got home. As I was driving it seemed a bad idea to drink round other people's houses and so I've fallen back on this lovely little number to make good the shortfall.

Without further ado, not adieu, I shall therefore continue on with my beer review what it is mine and this is what it is. A beer review, one of many on this site, what are mine, and this is one of them.

Yes, ahem, would you like to know more?

This had been chilled for a while, as I suspected that a chilled ale would be better suited to the evening than one at room temperature. Sure enough, it made no fuss upon opening and, when I started to pour, it was syrupy like the Molotov Cocktail (here) that I had in Leeds. Almost immediately the nose began to become apparent, excited by the pour and the slight heating up of the brew after being in the fridge. A heavy, fruity scent and the bottle was keeping quiet. However I was reasonably certain I could detect Citra and Amarillo hops, the bottle claimed three hops, but the last one eludes me still. Aroma was of berries and fruit in a huge citrus melange. A definite tang of nectarine hung over the vast portion, and coloured the rest.

First sip confirmed the syrup texture and the comparison to the Molotov Cocktail, though the strength was significantly lower than the 13% monster at 6% ABV. Big hops are what great you, full of berries and fruit and just hops. It carried the distinct taste of Citra, along the lines of Infinity (here) and Citra (link), and this dominated the proceedings comfortingly and well. I think I may have something for that particular hop and must see to stocking my beers accordingly. The syrup came from the malt, slightly over-cooled perhaps, but it lost nothing by it and then it was riding the wave of the hops all the way to the bittering end, finishing on an almost lemony note - but a sweet lemon rather than sour. It is this final note that sets the tone of the aftertaste, at once thirst-quenching and a little different.

It was light overall, a definite palate cleanser with a copper tinge to the pale ale milieu that is created. In all those big hops there is a definite touch of the peach to be found and this was a good background to the whole thing. I think I missed a trick by having it after a meal that, though filling, was on the bland side. It would be better suited to strong flavours and spices where it could flex those hops a little more a find room to breathe. As it was, it was a great little ale but very much out of place in the course of the evening. That said, had I not been gallivanting about the country with the family beforehand I suspect it would have been a much better received ale, so don't go assuming too much from my rather odd experience with it.

Enjoy this accompanied by a good curry or Thai cuisine. Make sure that you have something of sufficient strength to burn through the haze and to assert itself after the cleansing induced by this mighty hopped ale. Share the meal, and get a brace of these ales in to share too, with someone who will use chapatis or some other edible method of getting food from plate to mouth. Mix and match your courses with one another, talk loudly, and have a good argument about religion or politics. Or both. It is a sociable ale for a sociable occasion. I can vouch that non-ale drinkers will appreciate the fruity hops of this one, as Anna was very approving, and though it's not a favourite it is definitely one I would be happy to try again.

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