Thursday, 3 September 2015

Beer Review: Golden Pippin

I have spent the day in work, preparing for the new term. It has been sunnier and slightly warmer than the last couple of days and, mercifully, there was no rain. Our garden has taken a little bit of a pounding however - we have some radish planted 'neath a cloche and some buffoon has jumped on it two nights running. From what I can gather they're using our garden as a rat-run sometime after midnight and before 6am, there's evidence they climb up and out on the picnic table at the other side of the garden in a hurry. Anyway, it seemed like a good point to continue to deny the end of summer.

To that end, I turn to the ale bought for me by my daughter back in July that I was assured that I would enjoy. And I don't think that assurance was far wrong. I speak, of course, of Copper Dragon Golden Pippin. I'll confess that I have long seen this in supermarkets and declined its allure simply because I could never work out which part was the brewery and which was the ale name. I am a little strange.

So, to arms! Let us see what this ale can offer and whether my slightly odd way of judging the bottle is in anyway justified (hint: it isn't). Would you like to know more?

As ever, it appears, I must start with the actual aroma. It did not leap from the bottle, a common occurrence in ales these days for me, and I had to wait until I had poured it to shove my nose close enough to get a proper feel for it. Whilst doing this I did look again at the label, it is not clear which is the name of the ale and which is the name of the brewery and it doesn't help that I have seen no other varieties from the brewery. That's not necessarily a bad thing but it is comforting to know that I wasn't being entirely unfair. Nevertheless, once my nose was stuffed close enough there was a definite dry note to the fruit that wafted upward. As Blondes ought to be, this was going to be dry then, the fruits were distinct and welcoming. I noted hints of mango in amongst the overall fresh aroma that had a significant undertow of spicy malt. If this were a beach it would be the sort that had signs warning you not to swim from it as there are currents beneath the surface that could carry you off if you lose concentration. In that sense this ale puts me in mind of the fine Doctor Who episodes that make up the Curse of Fenric. Yes, this is very much the aroma of the episode where the two girls venture into the sea and return as haemovores. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, assume it's for the best and let's move on.

There's a big, swift, frothy head atop a clear copper colour, which must be why the brewery is named as such, but that head is deceptive as there isn't a great deal of carbonation to clutter the view. It reflects the light nicely and complements the aroma well, looking like a darker Blonde ale than something like Speciaalbier from Duvel (here) or the sort of champagne like ale of Speciale (link) - which fits as it is more placid and calm than either of those. This is not, then, the sort of ale that one has in celebration of a big event or at a posh party but nor, I feel, is it the sort of ale that one has amongst large groups of bawdy drinkers at the end of the working day - it's a little too understated and fruity to get by. Maybe I'm just prattling in a middle-class yuppie fashion. Whatever.

Taste is what you'd expect from the build up. It's thinner than it looks, but about as thin as it smells, in terms of mouthfeel with a fine grain to it that speaks of quality brewing and some care and attention lavished on it. This is not the kind of rubbish big quantity lager that masquerades as beer in some pubs (that I recall bitterly from my youth), this is proper ale and no mistake. That fruit in the aroma is curiously absent in the taste. This is not as jarring as the lack of peach in the 'curiously peachy' Golden Glory (linky) but it was still a bit of a surprise. There are some hops but they're not big or clever, they are just there and they do the job they are supposed to. After that it is just the dryness that remains, making this very much in the Belgian ale mould and in-keeping with the Blonde style that I think I associate more with Belgian ale than others. That said, at 4.2% ABV it won't be challening too many Belgian brews for a while!

This is the ale you would espy across a crowded cafe or tea-room whilst on holiday. She has nice hair and impeccable taste in clothes. The book that she reads, because she reads a book, is high-minded literature or hard science, this is class and intelligence. Approaching, you ask to sit down and she spots you are of an intellectual bent. You sit, she smiles, you discuss philosophy, or physics and quantum mechanics, or imaginary numbers and matrices. It is a warm, enjoyable, conversation. You part as friends and will no doubt meet up again for another proper conversation. But you won't find her in a rowdy pub/club or in the local snug. It's not that kind of ale.

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