Thursday, 16 July 2015

Beer Review: Chieftain Pale Ale

I feel like I need an ale. It's warm and sunny out and it's been a glorious day of marking. No, wait, that didn't sound right. Never mind, the point is that it is well past beer o'clock and I need me some ale and there is a lovely bottle of Chieftan Pale Ale from William Bros that I have by me that I got in Aldi, of all places, that rather needs drinking. Not least because I have seen from the posts of some good people I know in the Googles that this is a decent ale to try.

All that, and it's sunny out, what more could you want?

Would you like to know more?

This promised much on the bottle and for the princely total I paid, no I shan't share it, I was expecting something special given the amount of good press that I've seen it get. Given the high temperatures lately I was concerned that storing it in the pantry (I have a pantry) may have allowed this to get as fizzy and undrinkable as the much lamented Random Toss (here, the brewery are much better than this brew allowed for) but I was to be pleasantly surprised. On opening there was a satisfying snick that informed me that there was enough carbonation but not too much that it was impossible to drink and it certainly didn't come tumbling out of the bottle, which is nice.

The opening aroma is fruit and flowers - there's a nice balance of wayside pollen and heady sugar fruit from the summer on the nose - and this sticks around on the pour. This works well with the woody colour in the glass and was nicely complemented by the smell of the wildflowers blooming just down from the back of the garden. A small head greets you, which given the circumstances was something of a blessing, and there's a minimal amount of carbonation and fizz. The nose of this one is rather delicate though and there's a definite whiff of the yeast and the malt about it that sticks around simply by dint of being heavier and so less likely carried off by the subtle breeze. That said, at 4% ABV, this is going to be the kind of ale that will go with a meal nicely. And, as we were eating outside and had a salad and some rice with sausages, that means it will probably work quite well.

And so it proved. First taste was a good hit of yeast spearing through the clouds of malt and hops, the hops were quick and past in moments before I could get anything more than a Degas-like impressionistic feel of meadows and soft-fruits of the citrus family. That lack of fizz comes through again but in a good way, and then we're off through some fullness of fruits and wildflowers, a second hit of hops that sticks around a little longer, allowing that feeling of the meadow to get full attention (and I do declare that our lawn is increasingly looking like a meadow, which is no bad thing as I haven't managed to use a lawn-mower on it this year) but still unable to get a proper handle on the type of fruit that it brings to mind. In all, this is a juicy little number that lacks the malt that was threatened on the aroma and goes straight to the back of the throat. Once there we get a quenching and dry aftertaste with a slightly soft bitterness to it.

Overall then, this is a good little ale and I'm glad I picked it up. Nothing like the adventures you can get with other pales or even with other ales full stop (I'm looking at you, Nutbrook!) but a food accompaniment to the meal and a good choice, methinks, for the weather.

Enjoy this best in the height of summer, to combat the sweating and the heat, sit at the back of a garden and catch the dying rays of the sunshine before it is swallowed by the ominous black clouds that may or may not bring rain. Drink reflectively at the end of a day doing whatever it is takes away your day and free time and reminisce on what has gone before, knowing the promise that there will be another summer's evening, another ale and more chance to ruminate.

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