Thursday, 2 April 2015

Easter Ales: Maid Marian

Easter Ales? That may be a bit of a strong assertion to make, but it is getting close to Easter now, with Good Friday round the corner, and I have been thinking a lot about politics and who to vote for in the coming General Election seeing as how my community offered more votes for the BNP than for the Greens and UKIP combined in 2010. This does not bode well. I'm not a UKIP supporter. Luckily for me, there is not much chance of this hampering my enjoyment of a decent ale!

I have a brace of ales by Springhead to talk about over this time of mourning and celebration - the whole point of the Christian faith no less - and I thought that I would reflect this in some ales of a character that befits my vision of that celebration. Of course, being a wuss, I'm only having a single ale tonight. Therefore I start with Maid Marian who, by tradition, was compassionate and eased the suffering of those in the manor to which she was born before being betrothed and fighting with and for the Merry Men. And now I have an ale by the same name.

Would you like to know more?

The aroma is dominated by Seville oranges and the faintest hint of an English meadow in the summer, from a brew that seems like a version of slightly copper tones atop the standard shade for apple juice (though that may just be the oak design on the bottle that had me in mind of that). A decent pouring head with a lot of fuss in the carbonation that dies away quickly to leave a definite lack of froth and no wort blooming. There's a candied edge to the whole affair that is simply there - neither positively nor negatively. As far as Maid Marian would have gone I imagine this to be out of the experience of English Saxon nobility in the high Middle Ages, though the oranges may well have been known enough to have been tried, who knows?

First taste of this golden 4.5% ABV is actually refreshing. It is a thirst quencher after the fashion of quite a few of the recent pales that I've been having, and that's no bad thing, but with the weather the way it is and the time pressing for coursework marking I'm not sure it sits right. What would? Good question. Anyway, that carbonation is very much in evidence on tasting, closely supported by the yeast and the spice of something malty deep below the surface but staying tantalisingly out of reach and beyond my ability to analyse. The oranges take the main role but rapidly descend into citrus tang with no particular point of origin or reference. Then the whole thing accelerates to the back of the throat and then hangs around, sadly, like somebody trying to emigrate from Spain to a place with a harsher and colder climate but finding that their papers aren't in order and the place they're heading to isn't part of the EU and they have lost their passport. In short, it's a long-lived and sad sort of taste to it. Not good, not bad, just sort of there.

This has been in the kitchen for a long time, I got it as part of a Christmas present to myself from a supermarket chain doing a decent offer that wasn't B&M, and it has been waiting with its inevitable partner, who will turn up on Easter Sunday, to be tasted ever since. It has not disappointed or proved not to be worth the wait but nor has it made me sit up and take notice enough to immediately plan buying another load in. In that regard it is not as hot as some of the offerings by Innis & Gunn but is considerably better than some of the ales, like Criminales, that I've had.

Best enjoyed, I feel, on a dappled day with the canopy of a tree betwixt you and the sun; watch the birds flit back and forth, listen to their territorial disputes rendered in song and feel the warmth of the soil underfoot (because you'll be barefoot, obviously). Smell the fresh scent of mown grass, hear the dulcet tones of screaming children as they argue over who got the toys out first or which parent to be in their game of 'house' (and why do none of them play 17?) and reflect on life in the fast lane of the mechanised global north and west. Aah! Lovely.

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