Would ye like to come with me on a sail through the seas of insanity for to learn of an ale that be tickling yar tastebuds? Yar? Would ye be likin' t'know more?
There's a branded bottle-opener that comes with the pack and it's much bigger than I expected, and it feels quite lovely to hold in my hands. I've had a fair bit of caffeine through the day though so my wielding of it did rather alarm Anna. Nevertheless, it opened the rather dark brown bottle well and there was a swift mist of carbon dioxide that rose into the clear neck of the bottle. Toffee and sweet tones wafted from the pour, despite my attempt to be careful to avoid too much head, and then settled into an orderly looking biscuit-like topping. Rapidly dissipating there remained a vigour to the fizz in places but nothing too excessive or off-putting. Given how tired I was feeling this was probably for the best. A proper test of the aroma revealed a sweet biscuit-base (I like the base) confected with a tang of distant cherry atop a brandy-like tang. Despite this being brewed in a rum cask I got more of a brandy and syrup basket feel from the nose.
On taste the first impression is the fizz, held in place like the inside of a Wispa rather than outrageous and gassy, and then it moves slowly around the mouth. I can definitely say that there is a rum to it, sweet and spicy all at once with the promise of the Caribbean about it, and then this combines with a surprisingly slow moving malt to fill the mouth with a rather riotous concoction and then we calm down as it rolls to the back of the mouth, stops the carnival, and gets into more comfortable jogging bottoms for the taste equivalent of falling into the sofa and stuffing itself with crisps while shouting sporting advice to the most highly trained athletes in the world doing sports things that may or may not involve balls, shorts and grass. I prefer my sports with trousers, pads and a healthy dose of free bar in the pavilion (I have known this pleasure only once in a Sunday league game in my youth - my free bar consisted of lemonade with a slice of lime in it and no ice). I digress, we finish on the rum tang promised, wrapped in the odd sweet feeling that seems to be characteristic of the oak aging process with this brewery. It is not off-putting, but the fact that this is rum-finished should warn you that this is a sweeter ale rather than a bitter one and no amount of hopping can change that.
After that, the warm feeling rolls slowly down the throat and coagulates in the stomach to mimic well the effect I associate with a decent shot of spirit (here I mainly refer to vodka, eerily reminiscent in feeling to the Gzhelka I had in Russia when at University, a tale I have regaled people with many times) but there's nothing left at the back of the throat, no aftertaste that I can find at all. This is unusual. In the mouth itself there is the slightly numb feeling tinged with sweet regret that is the memory of the ale passing but there's not the bittering hops or the waves of almost aroma that I have come to expect from these tastings.
In which case, enjoy this best in warm weather, playing happy music that may involve many drum-lines (I recommend anything by She-Boom or the Pet Shop Boys Discoteca-Single double A side) and in your garden, on the decking or by a communal barbeque. Let your hair down (I find that leaving bed-head is particularly effective in making everyone think you're a dangerous homeless man when coupled with an unkempt beard and wild caffeine-fuelled eyes) and dance a little to the beat, take little tropical sips as you go and make this last. At 330ml the 6.8% ABV results in a quite hard-hitting 2.2 units a pop!
I think I like this one, I may even like it better than the Rare Oak Pale Ale (here) that Innis & Gunn make. And that's not an easy thing for me to admit.