Sunday, 8 February 2015

Beer Review: Ian & Paul's Ale

It's Sunday and I'm not doing much special. I have a load of marking still to do (and I know I get paid for that, not complaining, just saying) and so I got lazy. I am just having the one ale to relax and try to recover from the talent show where I was a zombie (it's a long story, don't ask). And I have a few ales lying about the place that, frankly, need drinking.

Tonight I am rectifying that complete travesty of not being drunk with Growler's IPA (or Ian and Paul's Ale, I'm not sure what the real name is, but this one makes me giggle a bit so it will serve better for the purposes of the review).

Would you like to know more?

I confess that I took the photo late. I've been busy, what can I say, and so I even forgot to sample the aroma first. It having been a bit of a while since I had an IPA (though I did have a bit of New World [here] at the pub on Thursday evening before being a zombie) I was rather taken aback. A diet of darker and stronger ale has sort of made me expect something else I suppose. Still, it was a pleasant and light shock to feel a more fruity and flowery ale hit the mouth. Soft malt washed along with a kick of spicy yeast and an aftertaste of agreeable citrus. Not too sharp, not too sour but a good bitterness to it that hangs around a little in the aftertaste. The malt is indeed pale and good for the coppery tone of the liquid that shines like bronze, of a sort, in the glass.

Late, I sampled the nose, to find a pleasant maltiness, not as heavy as something like malt loaf or as zingy as what I usually expect with an IPA, that felt not a little unlike a woodland in the summer. There's that pollinating feel to the tang, heady and like a marshmallow around the senses - puts me a little in mind of wild garlic (but a nicer aroma) or the sort of smell one associates with the clouds of haze that lift from a bank of wild flowers peeking out from beneath bushes into the brilliant sunshine at the edge of an old field or pond. In fact, I would go so far as to say that it puts me in mind of the woods that used to be behind our house where an old quarry had been left to cover over once more - the dry dustiness of the ground is a little like the citrus in the brew that makes sure the nose is not too pungent.

At 3.5% ABV it also fits the definition of normal ale strength in the NHS, meaning that just under a pint is just under 2 units, for those of you keeping count. I thought it worthy of mention. As an accompaniment to vegetarian shepherd's pie (fungus-grower's pie? It is Quorn) it works very well. I get the impression that this is a proper British ale, no nonsense and takes no prisoners with its attitude to what it is. There's no apology for being a small beer, no timid assertion of hops but a confident and brazen acceptance that this is a serviceable, sessionable ale that wants to be had with a hearty meal whether it be summer or winter. It's an all-rounder and so won't knock anyone's socks off, there will be no letters from the front-line commending it for being brave under fire, but neither is it so weak and wishy-washy that you'd regret drinking it, dependable under fire would be a better term that brave and it won't desert you. In many ways it's a bit like a Marston's brew but without being over-hyped and everywhere.

That said, don't forget that I had a half of New World and it was very welcome on Thursday, just thought I'd remind you again in case you forgot!

Enjoy this best with a meal, something with mashed potatoes and possibly grilled cheese on top (no, seriously) and take your time with it, don't just knock it back. Have more than one on hand and be prepared to get a little squiffy, so make sure you don't think you can drive after having just a pint or something, but equally don't prepare to get bladdered. This is British ale in that it is polite, unassuming, subtle and well-worth investigating. And it's from Essex. Which will make sense to just one person if they read this. Just one.

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