Off to the Isle of Mann again this time with a review of a wheat beer, such that it is, from Okell's called MacLir, taking inspiration from the magician and folky sounding Manannan MacLir apparently. And I was interested because they were on offer and I thought that I could do with some of that. Also, been down to another supermarket and they had even more ales at a reasonable price than my local bargains store. Colour me surprised. I shall be making a specific trip there to gain more ales for the tasting.
I digress. Tonight is the turn of MacLir and I hope to review it well. I've only been to the Isle of Mann once, a long time ago, and yet I have had two ales, as of tonight, from there. Coincidence? Actually, no, it's not. There's nothing here that speaks of a link but my own diseased mind.
Would you like to know more?
There's a brief whiff of carbonation from this one, CO2 bubbles out and settles, and then you start the pour. Even pouring carefully there's a noise from the head creation that made me worry that it would overflow, a bad plan as I was out of the kitchen and thus over carpets, but it never happened. It's a straw colour, unsurprising given the fact it's a wheat beer, and smells faintly of a meadow in summer, and I wish I were being overblown. There's a hint of long grasses and buzzing bees about it, which is a little incongruous but not unwelcome. Dry, floral and the sort of swelling quality that one associates with good hops and a decent dry hopping method.
First taste is heavy on the acidic nature of citrus hops, carried by the spikes of the bubbles, and slides over the base of wheat flavouring and a floral underbelly that seamlessly joins with the underlying light malt. There's some spice in there, but dry and smoky, as well as a hint of the alcohol so that you don't forget you're drinking ale. At 4.4% ABV it's hardly the sort of ale that will punish you for overuse and well within the limits for sessionable ale. It's interestingly subtle too, with that meadow feeling pervading the whole experience until, at the end, it fades again into a mellow malty aftertaste not a little unlike lager but with an added layer of something hoppy to keep it on the straight and narrow.
It is very much on the tart end of ales, where I like them as it happens, and thin enough to feel thirst quenching. I imagine it does well chilled in the summer or during a bout of unseasonably warm weather and its natural home is not the dark nights of the winter. That said, it doesn't do a bad job of being a tipple of an evening all alone and has some depth to it. If anything, the dry summer grass taste and feel of the ale increases as it gains more air and the stark nature of it implies that it would remain very much in my comfort zone if it were draught too - something that I'm trying to be more aware of now that I've moved and have access to actual pubs with actual beers in them.
In the end, I like this as an ale. I shan't be tearing out to get another one but, by the same token, I wouldn't turn my nose up if I fancied an ale of an evening and this was on offer. I'd prefer something heavier for some evenings (I'm thinking 1698 click here or Barbarian Stout click here or such like) and something a little lighter on others (maybe a Wild Swan click here or Blond Witch click there). This fits neatly into that spectrum and so would go well with most things.
Enjoy with a book, alone, of an evening. Cuddled up in blankets with a secondary cup of something warm and chocolate-y in the winter or else outside in the garden beneath the stars and with a friend in the summer. Either way, this is contemplative ale, allowing you to focus on something with intensity whilst enjoying something with enough flavour and depth to draw you in but humble enough to let the evening's activities take centre-stage. Not as much a background ale as, say, Robber (click here) but less demanding than signature ales.