Thursday, 14 May 2015

Beer Review: Criffel

What can I say, it's Thursday and it's the evening and it's been a day. Neither good nor bad, but easily identifiable as a day, and that is good enough sometimes. This calls for a bout of oddly disjointed prose, words thrown at a page in a close enough approximation of a description to warrant reading if not following. Yes, it's a beer review and I have chosen the carefully hoarded and husbanded Criffel from the presentation pack of Sulwath ales that my mother got me for Christmas. It's been rather a while since the last one (link) and it's time to break them out again methinks.

Also, it's been sitting in my kitchen looking at me and disapproving generally of my not drinking it for long enough that the guilt alone would have forced me into drinking it without the fact that I am so locked into my routine that it is time to review an ale.

Would you like to know more? Oh good, then click on the words below. Click them!

There was a snick on opening that I'll admit that I haven't heard for a while with the ales that I have been trying and so I plumbed to pour it more carefully than I usually do. I have said before that I am no big fan of heads that are all froth and get in the way of a decent ale, though is probably more down to the fact that I rarely shave or maintain the fuzz that I call a beard and so a head tends to get embroiled in the facial hair. And I'm not one for getting any part of me embroiled in anything because it feels strange. This poured with a ma-hoo-sive head that put me more in mind of the cream soda SodaStream we made back in the mid- to late 90s than an ale on an evening. There was a cornet quality to the whole affair and I was wondering what I had let myself in for. Yet the overall carbonation was small and almost tiny by comparison. Just what was going on?

The aroma was strong on the hops, good fruity flavour to them in the air with little citrus sharpness nor the tropical heady madness of other ales. Equally, it wasn't the boring sort of half-arsed flavour that had been marked in The Grace (which was much better once I started drinking - linky) or the reasonably nice but still lager-y Galloway Gold (here). This was a definite choice and the whole feel of this aroma was very deliberate. This led me to take the first taste not in a state of concern about the effects on my beard but in a state of almost excitement to see what could be the base of such an odd collection of hops.

I was not disappointed. The instant mouthfeel was remarkably full and soft, so much so that I had to immediately say this to my long-suffering wife, Anna, who nodded and let me babble a bit. She's good at that and I am very grateful for it! The malt was really smooth in this one, rolling forth like some great sponge attempting to get a cricket pitch ready in my youth, maybe at Old Trafford, with the feeling of a sunny day to come but the full pollen scent of a recent rainfall on a warn day when you're close enough to the ground to feel the full force of the immediate evaporation of it back into the air. Those hops were present but muted, made subtle and an accomplice to the cloak and dagger progress of that malt. All leading to a bitter aftertaste that was sharp enough to make you remember it but soft enough to avoid leaving a mark. Throughout there was the needling of a yeast that was good enough to play a role in the symphony without it playing the central role or ruining a well-balanced ale. This is most impressive and I am very glad that I left it until last because it is by far and away the best of the bunch! If you see this I cannot stress enough how much you need to get yourself one!

No silly metaphor to end this one, this is a good drinking ale and well worth seeking out. I shall be seeing how best to gain one (and I'm still strangely put off by the concept of ordering online, this will likely change with time) and acquiring a couple to share.

No comments:

Post a Comment