Thursday, 14 July 2016

Beer Review: Maple Gold

Tonight I am writing this on a new way to access these here intertubes I have a new phone! In celebration, if that is the right term of this affront to the laws of man and god, I have cracked open the bottle of golden ale that I have waiting for me in the pantry. I know, I took the precaution of chilling it in the fridge for a bit. I am referring to the lovely Maple Gold by Joseph Holt, a brewery last seen in a cultural exchange evening here. After the pain of Sunday, see here, I elected to chill this brew a while before sampling and I think that was a good idea all round!

So, what to make of it? For one I can say that, swanky as this phone is (don't ask, it's a long story!) I shan't be using it any more than I really have to because it is an absolute bugger to type with!

Would you like to know more?

Clear bottles make for a clear colour before one opens them and so the golden nature of the brew, being well-suited to summer evenings after much marking, was never in any doubt. So it poured, with a massive amount of pressure from the snick of the cap held back by the cooling process, as a golden-hued ale with a big nose. It filled the room in short order with an aroma that, while comforting, was difficult to place immediately. There was definite malt there with a full head of hops, though the actual head was a somewhat subdued affair that didn't really deliver on the pressure from the opening, not that I'm complaining as I like my heads to be a bit more on the non-existant side for reasons that I have never been fully clear. Anyway, a big smell and not an unpleasant one, one that mellowed and crisped over time, rapidly becoming almost like a forest itself, with dry and fruity tones about the symphony of stronger malt and with the hint of something toasted and sweet on the edge of awareness, just on the cusp of breaking through. It sounds poetic and such but it really is the best that I can muster.

Taste was big, no other word for it. A dancing of pattering bubbles on the tongue that are bowled over and away by a ferocious attack of spin from the malt and the hops, from both ends all at once (and thereby ruining my burgeoning cricking metaphor). That big hit of heady malt and alcohol, really feeling the full brunt of the admittedly normalised 4.3% ABV, is rapidly gone, passing down to the back of the throat like a fire-cracker and then fading into the background while the strangely sweet, but not saccharine so, flavours tingle down the sides and centre of the mouth. There's a flatness to this one, like bread or ginger ale, that characterises it more than just hops or the malt. The bottle is bold with the promise of maple and that may be what is at play here, Willow opined that she could taste the flavour almost like treacle, which would make sense. I'm not sure it's treacle though, that implies a viscous thickness that is totally absent here, more like a thick porter or a stout. No, this brew is much more alike the summer thinness of Golden Bolt (here) or even the delectable A-Hop-Alypse Now (here) than it is a deep and dark malty stout.

Still, the maple flavouring, the sweetness that tingles, is very much the sort of thing that makes a summer ale a summer ale. There's the playfulness apparent in the brew, the sparkling nature of it all that suggests a slight freshness and lightness that wouldn't be out of place in a Czech emigre's novel about being. That colour is thin but no less rich, the head is almost not there but no less characterful and the flavour is big and hard-hitting despite both of these points. More of a test player than a 20/20 cricketer, the sort that would score well and give good crowd appeal in a one-day county match without blowing it all in a single over but could equally plug away with defensive strokes to frustrate even the best bowling attack teams, this is an ale I could stand to have a few more of in the future.

Enjoy best at Old Trafford cricket ground, over the left from the pavilion and near opposite the scoreboard there, where Paul Allott hit the winning six in the game against Surrey in 1986 for Lancashire, as you have a picnic lunch with the family just as the players re-emerge onto the field having had their own. The sun will beat down, the floppy hats will be out in force and suncream will be slathered over exposed limbs. Binoculars will be in evidence, the special ones for Grandad you bought last year, and sunglasses will be donned. Over on the pitch someone will make a mistake, a rumble will ripple through the crowd, and the ale will be supped convivially rather than necked like cheap lager, and the clear blue sky will kiss the white tops of the stadium. Lovely.

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