Ah, have I mentioned how much I remember this brewery? Tonight I shall be reviewing Thwaites's Crafty Dan, named after part of their brewery, and why not. We have had a lovely chickpea and spinach curry (I know that spinach in a curry is saag, but I cannot for the life of me remember what chickpeas are) home-cooked and with a late late crop of carrots from our garden (I know!). So, yes, nice enough day for a craft ale of an evening.
This is an odd fish and not one for the faint-hearted! Care to delve deeper into the madness?
First of all, the aroma on opening was dull and moody, like an overcast British day (56% of all days in Britain are overcast) and thus very fitting for the time of year. Second of all was the pour, nice and lively but with little in the way of head - you can see above that it was there in part and then disappeared when called for. The aroma remained difficult to place, there's a hint of orange, as promised on the label, and the dullness may well be reminiscent of some liquors but that is harder to verify. At 6% ABV though there is the warning on the nose that this is no sessionable ale and that it would behoove one to be respectful.
First taste blows you away. It is deeply strange and, as I hadn't really read the label fully, the fusion of amarillo and fuggles was totally unexpected. I am pleased to state that I identified the amarillo but saddened to note that despite going on about fuggles for the best part of three months or more when starting beer reviews on this blog (most notably with Thoroughbred Gold here) I did not spot them at all. It is a veritable explosion of hops on the tongue with definite orange overtones from the beginning, carried by a decent carbonation into a roll of malt that rapidly descends back into the hops, this time heavier on the fuggles than the fruity amarillo but there's something unmistakably Statesian about it, very much similar to the craft ales that I've had from there - there's just something... hipster? about it. I mean that not as an insult but as a nota bene as there's something strange going on here. Not strange in bad sense, just... well, strange. I think I might like it.
Sure enough the balance of the fuggles and the fruity amarillo carry this ale throughout, the fiery nature of the 6% ABV making up for the lack of a malty base but that was never the intention. There are no gaps in this one, nothing thin around the edges or on the base, this is a full ale with plenty of taste to it an enough adventure to keep me moored to the quay of its dock. Yes, one for people like me who like their hops and like to be able to trace a path through the taste to a secret destination. Almost like having the Beatles on loop or something from the White Album because it is at once experimental and edgy but also mass-produced and well-known. So... hipster.
Enjoy this one whenever you like, wherever you like with pretty much any food you like. It's an adventure in hops that could give Wild Raven (here) a run for its money but without being crass about it and without anything so pedestrian as a 'winner' or a 'loser' in the battle. Sit back, get a good glass to hand and enjoy the madness that will spew forth from the bottle - for once an ale that very much matches the label on the bottle in being quirky and different whilst still being produced in enough quantity that you can have a repeat performance another time. Surprisingly nice ale and I'm pleased I happened across it.