Another day and another ale. I have found and procured more of the lovely Batemans Mocha (here) for 79p a pop, which has made me immodestly happy, and I have decided to celebrate by trying another of the Christmas ales from my mother - the Sulwath gift box set. Third of these offerings then is a nice little blonde number that goes by the name of Tri-Ball Tribute, a reference to raquet sports in Scotland apparently, and with the thistle and St. Andrew's Cross very visible on the bottle.
It was that sort of day you see, when you think that the weather is very much like what you'd expect in Scotland. Having lived as close as I did to the country for as long as I did and as young as I did I suspect that this may just be a me sort of thing to think. In the meantime it's late evening, I've had a lovely (if ad hoc) meal of home-cooked spring rolls, pork pie and grapes and I fancy me a decent bottle of ale - hence the decision to go for this.
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Grapefruit. The open bottle once poured smells like grapefruit. It is crisp, clear and cleansing in many ways. This is a good thing, it's not too sharp nor is it too bitter. Lacks the floral cushion or the stout-like malt of some of the offerings since Christmas but it is very nice. Colour is thin but retains that amber sort of copper that this brewery seem to like so much. It is reminiscent, in the right light (I suspect the kitchen light to be a bit bleaching given the picture above for this entry), of The Grace (here). Head is constant but never too lively and it seems to prefer keeping a low profile. At 3.9% ABV this is closer to a 'standard' ale from which units are drawn and so it's not too shabby as an evening's tipple.
First taste is strangely watery in texture, which is a shame, and there's a green tinge as you look down at the pint that puts me in mind of lime cordial. Fresh hops open, that grapefruit smell and taste from the aroma, with some minor carbonation that is just strong enough to mix things up without being a delivery method for yeast or further hopping. There is a malt base, just beneath the light hoppiness, but this doesn't seem to take the lead at any point, hovering around in the background as the hops fade slightly and then pick up again to take you to the last after-taste. It ramps up to a bitter finish that then slowly fades into a duller, but still faintly grapefruit, memory of the overall impression.
The whole feel to this brew is light and airy and I suspect that by having it on a dark winter evening, however close we are to spring, I am doing it a disservice. This is not a winter ale (like, say, Crafty Dan here or MacLir here), it is not warming and it is not full, this is a thirst quencher of an ale, something fit for summer and for reading something witty and clever like Three Men in a Boat or just for drinking outside. The 'watery' quality here would be more at home in the garden, surrounded by pollen and the buzzing of small insects in temperatures in the teens or higher and with brilliant sunshine. It's not like the quality of the ale is awful or even that the lighter texture is bad, I think I'm just giving it an impossible task to impress me when I'm slightly cold and having bought some very thick and gloopy chocolate and coffee stout!
Enjoy best, then, in a beer garden with a good summery salad and some strips of ham or salami, dressed with vinaigrette, rocket and radish on the side. Wear a straw hat to keep out the sun, have a loud shirt on a fellow friend that is open at two buttons near the neck, discuss sports or something, maybe cricket and the state of play, then take sips as you talk with your hands, cover your eyes when looking at the blue of the sky and apply suncream liberally to prevent burning. It would be even better if you do this in the north-west of England, sure in the knowledge that the warmth won't last. I'd even go so far as to suggest The Beehive in Carlisle as a really good place to try it, what with the football ground just across the road and the Eden running close enough that the surrounding city sprawl isn't so intense that you can't enjoy the sunshine.