Thursday, 27 August 2015

Beer Review: Crystal Rye IPA

It's still summer, honest. The longer I say it the longer it shall continue to be so! Also, it has been a sunny day with occasional big showers of rain and so, despite the sudden sharpness on the breeze, I can make believe that the Great British summer continues unabated. To that end, an ale must be had, and for the time being I'm going to stick to the lighter in colour and the fizzier in nature pales. Except that this is an IPA, says so on the bottle, and so I'm lying already. It is, of course, Crystal Rye IPA by Adnam's that I picked up a few of on account of them being so cheap. Then I saw them in virtually every pub we passed over the summer for considerably more and thought that I must get round to them. Which I did, in my new mug from Sherwood Forest, and so that didn't work for reviewing (plus it was a particularly warm day that day). The long and the short of it is that now I am going to review it.

Are you absolutely certain that you would like to know more?

It's been a day of decorating. The Boy wishes his room to be a different colour and we've been promising him we'd do it since we decorated the Girlie's room. To be honest the colour he's chosen, quite definite, hurts my head after standing looking at the reflected glare of the sun in it for most of the day. Which is to say that this ale will be something of a relief at 5% ABV, it may just be strong enough to knock the colour from the forefront of my mind!

It pours nicely with a chestnutty colour, much like a normal bitter, and decent head that doesn't get all leery and out-stay its welcome. The aroma is almost tropical in its fruitiness, like there's citra or amarillo in there somewhere but that could just be a reaction to it being near the end of the day and desire to recapture the scents and feelings of the summer, more likely there are New World hops but of varying varieties. Had citra or amarillo been prevalent I imagine that more would have been made of them on the packaging (though that bottle label is actually one of the nicer ones I've seen this year). Sure enough there's grapefruit and melon on the tongue, neither too sharp nor too sweet, like a good continental breakfast (though I shall always prefer the tinned variety of the former) that is joined by a quick fizz and malt combination that then snaps back to bitter melon afterwards. This settles with a soft and fuzzy feel in the throat area to allow for the aftertaste to develop fully.

Like a good IPA this punches above its weight and with a full bouquet of hops to make the opening notes. It feels like it is stronger and could easily have gone toe to toe with some of the bigger hitters I had on the night of IPAs in Leeds (here), including such luminaries as Northern Monk, so this is a good little number. It feels like I'm drinking the ale equivalent of a sporty little car from the late 1960s, back when it was the late 1960s, with a nice little engine that makes a bit of noise and a feeling of almost excitement at getting to drive. Except that the engine is electric because the awful smell is replaced by the scents of nature and the noise is reduced to the point where you can tune into the world around you.

To that end, this is a good choice to have a relax on an evening and, coming in 330ml bottles, it's not a bad strength. I realise that this is probably a function of my being a lightweight or the fact that I was out until my head hurt in the last week with a colleague but it is actually one of the more welcome aspects of this little ale. A good IPA all told and, if you see it around, it's well worth getting in. I wouldn't quite go so far as to pay the £4.50 I saw it advertised for at an establishment that shall remain nameless but it's a good ale.

Enjoy this best with something light to eat, I'm thinking the kind of meal that bills itself as a salad or brunch rather than steak or mixed grill, and then follow up with a second because why not? After this you may well wish to indulge in something heavier, like a Blue Fin Stout (here) or just something with a bit of stodge in it like a chocolate fudge cake or heavy trifle.

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