Still in the beer festival, though it has now ceased, and a lovely sunny evening. Warm day, busy day, but pleasant for the most part. I decided that I may as well have an ale, well, no, actually Willow decided that she would have a cider with the work she was doing and I thought "hey, I could have an ale with the work I shall be doing" and lo, I am having an ale. Tonight's summer-like addition to the tasting annals is Golden Bolt by Box Steam Brewery. And a very nice bottle it is too.
Children bouncing on the trampoline and screaming hysterically with joy, small stuffed animals from Conkers festooning the sofa and a gentle breeze to take the sting out of the heat of the day (leaving the car like an oven by the by), would you like to know more?
Firstly, this claims to be a straw-coloured hoppy bitter on the bottle. Now, to me, the colour is more of a copper or a light amber than a straw, but that doesn't mean anything, certainly not with my lack of track record in getting colours and ale types even remotely correct. The initial pour resulted in a sift bubbly head that rapidly disappeared to leave the thinnest of thin collars around the glass, certainly in the time it took me to get my phone camera doing what it was supposed to do, and then it keeps a leisurely fizz that is significantly less active than a lager but with a colour that is thinner than an amber. On the nose, this smells tropical, as billed, and full. Hard to place exactly, Willow suggested it was a little like Tropical Kia-Ora and I think I can buy that. A little orange, a little lemon, plenty of pineapple, yeah, tropical is definitely the int but without the softer tones I usually refer to when making that distinction.
The taste backs this up from an instant hit with pineapple freshness, tempered with a bed of mango and orange, through the slightly thin malt despite a full mouthful (that is, there's no 'filling' sensation as one gets with a stout or porter, but this avoids having gaps where the ale ought to be) to the almost dry and straw-like feeling that accompanies the after-taste. This is the sort of ale that does put me in mind of a cordial fruit juice (squash?) and that's not a bad thing on a day like today. Following salmon and an interesting Parmesan, tomato and garlic sauce dish, this struck just the right notes of being sharp and mellow, allowing me to enjoy my post-prandial musings and settle into the body of the ale.
In short, this behaves very much like a straw ale even if it doesn't, to me, look like one. At 3.8% ABV it is close enough to what units are measured on that it even works as an ale with tea when I have work planned later in the evening and is unlikely to send me into a stupor or have me wake up cotton-headed (though the proof of that will come in the morning as I prepare for work!). I think it fits with the sort of behaviour I recall from Wild Swan (here) and it certainly captures the mood of the garden on this summer evening, even if the tranquility is somewhat destroyed by children yelling at each other as they play games and do handstands. That aside, the sky is clear and blue and the sun is bright and strong, making a perfect accompaniment to this rather refreshing ale.
Enjoy best as I had it - outside and in the sunshine. Nothing special is required and you can easily session this one given the low strength. Can you tell I like it? It's no White Witch (here) or A-Hop-Alypse Now (here) but it does a fine job of holding its own of an evening.