Thursday, 23 April 2015

Beer Review: Imperial Ale

After the totally disappointing Snowman's Revenge I decided to take a risk and purchase this little number from the same brewery. The brewery is the now infamous Wentworth (here) and the subject of tonight's escapade into beers and their resultant reviews is the nicely labelled Imperial Ale. What the hey, it's worth a shot, right?

What's the worst that could happen? No, wait, that's the advertising slogan from Dr Pepper... Where will it end? Well, not here unless you want it to. Would you like it to go on?

Straight away I was suspicious and checked the taste notes on the bottle first. On pouring I was pleased that it was floral as charged, the hops doing a good job of providing a smell not unlike a bank of heather bedding plants in the late autumn and thus putting me in mind of the Fraoch (link) from ages back, and that's not a bad thing. The pour also left a great deal of froth that I failed completely to capture in the photograph above, though a slightly faster shutter speed than with Old Timer (here) meant that I could get the actual colour of the ale nicely. It is, of course, an amber but the bottle describes it as 'tawny' as one can't be as pedestrian and boring to simply have an amber ale these days, obviously. Though, yes, I accept the fact that I used it as a stick to beat London Pride with. I rather suspect I simply had a bad batch now. Anyway, I was able to prevent a head forming by clever pour and then it never really returned, not even in a worty bloom akin to others that I have seen recently. The aroma remained dry in the night air of my dining room (always a plus) and the coloour was a nice one.

With some trepidation I took the first sip. It is a simple taste despite the complexity of the aroma that has full hops on the tongue with a pungent fruity blow to the top of the mouth that remains neutral. As the ale swirls the malt delivers that pungent burst of hops from the glass to the back of the throat like the Ferryman that takes souls across the River Styx. No payment is asked for, however, and thus none is given. I remember the advice of the mono-browed purveyor of filth not to pay the ferryman, not even to fix a price, at least until he takes you to the other side. Indeed, pleasurably, there's a familiarity to this that I've come to expect from IPAs, like Ian and Paul's (here), or Pales. The low ABV, 3.8%, actually makes this a little more respectable and is a good point overall for the ale. It is pleasant without being weak or watery and the overall taste is nice and refreshing rather than the horrid acidic mess that was had over Christmas. Indeed, I rather like it.

Enjoy this best with a decent curry made by people who know what they are doing. Spice in the food is flavoursome and full, the chapatis are good and without too much dough in them, the vegetables are crunchy and infused with aromatic spice. The ale is thus cooling, floral and does a good job of allowing you to make the most of the food and conversation. By this point the unexpected aftertaste will explode into being from the back of the throat, as it did with me, all the way to the tongue and in a good way, to combat the heat of the food with the cooling nature of the ale and the malt. Totally worth the risk!

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