Sunday, 2 August 2015

Beer Review: Azimuth & Code Black

Whilst still away in Carlisle I chanced on finding what turned out to be a semi-local brewery and a couple of their ales that appeared to specialise in being IPAs of various variations. Of course I took these in and had them because, well, why not? So, tonight, I thought that I would tell you a little about these IPAs - nicely contrasting as they were light and dark - as well as tell you a bit about our trip out to Keswick because, well, I can and this is a beer blog and I bought an ale whilst we were out that will appear on a future review. Yes, tonight, I am reviewing Azimuth IPA and Code Black IPA - no prizes for guessing which one is light and which is dark from the names.

The day has also been rather unexpectedly warm and sunny and bright so I am somewhat exhausted from it, but in a good way. Who knew the Lake District could be so hot and busy? I remember going during the off-season and being happy if it weren't raining. A lot less busy then. Much has changed for me though despite the fact that we had excellent company.

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First up of the evening was the light offering, Azimuth, because it seemed like a sensible place to start. At 5.8% ABV it was very much the bigger hitter of the pair and also boasted about having hop varieties from Australia in there. Well, okay, they said around the world and didn't specify anywhere in particular but the label and the wording did strongly hint at that location in my view, as opposed to New World hops. I confess that I was rather looking forward to this cheeky looking number after the success of trying out Charles Wells DNA (here) on Thursday and I was not to be disappointed. Once opened I found the the over-riding impression was of New World hops however, a familiar mustiness and fruit-fullness suggestive of the Citra and Amarillo branches that I have come to know reasonably well but there was definitely an edge there that suggested that there were others. I'll confess that I can't quite place where. Indeed, there was a heavy hops hit there with a quick and substantial head that faded just as quickly. Colour was woody but thin and the skein of the head quickly resembled the worty sort of thing one expects from bitters and well poured cask ales. The taste was, thus, unsurprising with a massive hops wave on the tongue to open proceedings so that the whole thing, despite being very nice, was impossible to separate out coherently. A symphony of citrus fruit with the edges of mangoes and grapefruits and lemons all zesting together like some insane and less sweet version of those sour-sweets you had on the way to Church on a Sunday with what remained of your pocket money. Okay, maybe that was just me. These crested on a big wave, all noise and thunder, of carbonation that was shot through with spears of fruit again, the bottle claimed that it was mainly apricot but the fresh ones that I've been having for lunch would disagree - perhaps the dried variety. This finished in a quick run to the back of the throat that was dry and soft for the aftertaste with the lingering memory of that cacophony of fruit. Think those Del Monte drinks back in the mid-80s with their mixture of fruit-juices and copious amounts of sugar, you have a good indication of the aftertaste. That said, this was not saccharine sweetness and actually worked well, pulling you in for a second sip almost straight away. This was pretty decent ale and I'm glad I tried it.

Then it was time to have a bang on the Code Black which, as the name suggests, is a darker version of the IPA recipe. I have to say, of the two, I had a better feeling about this one. Despite being the lighter of the two at 5.6% ABV it was much more understated on the label and the initial aroma was much mellower and easier to place. There was the fruity freshness of the Citra straight away, with a full aroma that felt soft and like clouds should feel all around the nose. This was the childhood dream of being in the sky and able to reach out and touch the wafts of white to find they were like candyfloss or cotton-wool, it was that sort of envelopment that was faced here. Good thick colour on the pour with a hefty side of decent head. Straight down to business on the tongue too with flowery accents amid the fresh citra taste and the fullness of the fruit to work the magic on the mouthfeel. A wave of hops follows that almost meadow-like beginning that brings more of the fruit-fullness to join the following fizz and thick viscous malt. This is a good sign, I do like my ales to be a bit thick and full rather than thin  and wispy. Another set of big hops at the end allowed it all to fade quite nicely to a soft and gentle aftertaste not a little unlike the sort of taste one associates with a chocolate orange. Indeed, in many ways, I could hold this up as truth in advertising as it does exactly what it says on the bottle.

Overall then? Well, this is certainly a brewery that knows what it wants to do - all the varieties I could see when picking these two were IPAs of one type or another - and they do that thing very well. I was impressed by both of these offerings and would try either of them again. I prefer, though it may be obvious, the Code Black due to my penchant for darker ales and heavier tastes. These were nice to have on a holiday, and may yet feature in my end of week drinking, we shall see.

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