Thursday, 2 July 2015

Beer Review: BG Sips

I suppose it is now properly summertime and that means that I must pass from the dark ales of the spring and winter into the lighter pale ales that populate the sunlit uplands of the fair Isles in which I reside. Time to pass into the mellow and the meadow, to repose among the buzzing bees and the breeze blown trees in the sun of the garden and the... okay, you got me, it is dark, I am working and I am having an ale on a less than warm day (but not cold) after some humidity and some rain. So sue me. It is BG Sips (I see what they did there) by the Blue Monkey people that, apparently, are pretty local to me, and moreso than I would have previously thought.

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The bottle tells me that this is going to be a monster of a hoppy ale, but not in the usual way, by explaining that 20kg of hops is stuffed into every batch. Now, they provide no context on the size of the batch and thus the potency of the hops but I know enough to know that this is a lot of hops and, sure enough, there is an aroma that is strong and hoppy as it pours. I mistook it, at first, for the Citra of previous summer's tries (here and here if you're interested) so fresh and pungent was that aroma but I was wrong, the bottle informs me that we are dealing with Brewer's Gold - not a variety that I have been previously acquainted with, at least, not knowingly.

It pours reasonably well, a lot of fuss and fizz but not much lasting head and a sound to the whole affair that puts me in mind of a soft drink down the local near where I work. In the light of the evening it looks almost coppery too. Once you get past that aroma you get to taste the thing and, at 4% ABV, it shouldn't be a big one. It isn't. There is an explosion of hops at the front of the mouth, aided by a significant amount of carbonation that carries the thing into the middle of the mouth and keeps that hop war rig going through the canyon of your mouth. Motorcycles rapid fire from both sides, dropping flaming bombs of hops and carbonation on the engine and cab of the malt as it hurtles ever onward like a juggernaut. Inside, small amounts of yeast hastily reload guns and pistols, cower in the secret underfloor compartment and drive like something possessed. Inevitably they all lose, the end of the drive is a slow skid into a sand dune, engine ticking like it will explode from the dry heat without water, and then silence all around. There is a bitter plunge there, just as you are about to give up all hope, and then its the salt flats of bittering hops, almost citrus-like, as the aftertaste.

After ninety days of travelling there's just more salt. No, wait, that's Mad Max (here), but this ale is similar. There's a concentration here, that allows the pale ale to really live up to its potential but also makes it seem as though it's trying too hard or something. I like the ale, it is a nice addition to a summer evening and to a day of work (ish) but it is also masquerading as something bigger than it is and it shows. The hop-hit at the top of the brew makes you think of something like a big IPA (Dr Hardwicke's, for example, here or Hop-Bomb here) but then the ale fades to something else instead and, despite the fact that my last brush with a night of IPAs left me wondering if one wouldn't be too many, I think I sort of miss that hop-hit after the initial part of the taste.

Would I have this again? Actually, yes. This is the sort of ale that one can have in company in good conversation and probably have a second without feeling cheated or that you were losing the ability to review and enjoy something more nuanced and different. It is uncomplicated, well-brewed and pretty dang decent. I wouldn't seek it out again for a night's drinking alone or in the middle of work but, then again, I wouldn't avoid it for the same purpose either. Well worth what I paid, £2.50, and well worth seeking out but not something to covet and to hoard for just the right moment either - a drinking ale, I suppose.

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