Add to that a hearty day's toil and a bad back from carrying one of my children recently (and utilising the shoulders, ah, I'm getting too old for this) and you have an evening that is made for enjoying a nice ale and a nice ale that was made for an evening of enjoying it.
Ouch, that is one over-exposed photo, my camera phone sucks. Would you like to know more?
Five hops went into the making of this ale and the opening snick showed that they had been introduced to a goodly load of yeast and a malt that would allow them to be borne aloft from the top of the glass by the popping of decent carbonation. It did a little activity as I carefully poured, leaving a brief active head that rapidly diminished into the west like the elves in LOTR, but then settled to an almost still posture. The aroma was thick, almost heavy, as it rose and lingered about the glass and nearby, even reaching my nostrils so far from the bottle as I sit and type this screed. You can pick out the freshness of Challenger and the rest of the ensemble make a nice backing chorus of flowers and citrus fruits that are ripe and ready. Not so much the heather depth of more floral scents but nor the sharpness of the A-Hop-Alypse Now (here) from last week. Willow suggested that there was much malt on the nose and that it hung around beyond the initial hop heavy hit (so that she almost didn't catch the hops). In this she agreed with the bottle that claimed magical malt, so that's interesting.
Onto the taste and Willow suggested that there was a modicum of chocolate in the malt that dominated proceedings. I can't say I agree. There's a definite malty edge from the beginning of the taste, but this is sliced right through by the hops and the bitterness, though lacking the sharp edge of the more New World based hops that you can find elsewhere. No, this is a much more friendly hop invasion that makes good use of the agreement between the malt and the yeast to avoid cutting in, and instead hangs around the edges making sure that the tongue doesn't become overwhelmed. Minimal carbonation is in play here, allowing the whole brew to seem a great deal more civilised than you might otherwise expect from five hops marshalled together for a final assault. Smooth is the order of the day, as it slides down the sides and around the tongue to the back of the throat where it seems curiously reticent to tread.
Initial promise of great things on the lips, a frisson of bubbles and a breadth that could be filled by hops, but lacking something. Indeed, the aftertaste is too subtle for its own good, not really lending much to the story but nor does it do a bad job of capping the tale. It's a drinking ale, to be certain, and plays its role with some aplomb.
For that matter it does not seem weak for it's 3.7% ABV and actually fares well as a good drinking ale. I've had falafel with salad (mostly home-grown) in a pitta bread wrapping, this works well with the amber ale here, the subtlety of flavour mingles well with the slightly spicy edge of the falafel and allows for a slow build as you sup. As the gloom of the evening gathers, slowly drawing in despite the blue sky above, the depth of the flavour begins to show itself. It's not a flashy hop-headed IPA nor is it some kind of dingy lightweight suitable only for drinking with something strongly flavoured. I think I would have this again, but not on its own. I suspect that it needs to be mingled more, perhaps with a meal rather than after it, and perhaps it would work well with the sort of smoky texture of a barbeque, thus singling itself out as a proper summer ale.
It calls itself mythical and so perhaps one ought to wait until one is immersed in the study of myth and legend before opening, making sure that your reading is kept in place as you tuck into a nicely flame-grilled mushroom or burger. Lashings of brown sauce (or somesuch) would go well, then you can read and munch as you sup, safe in the knowledge that all is balanced and the green-skinned soldiers of the forest led by the mad wizard will be unable to bend you to their will. Or something.