Tonight, fair companion, you shall be regaled by tales of drinking ale, no mean feat, and tonight we shall be looking at that classic of good old Frankie, he went to Hollywood you know, and the brewery that named their contribution to British brewing Two Tribes. I believe they could go to war, what?
But, seriously, did anyone think that I could see that name of an ale and a) not buy it, b) not have that song stuck in my head enough to post the video here? I thought not.
Would you like to know more?
The first thing to note, because it is rather unusual in my experience, is the head. On the pour there was virtually nothing and then it seemed to settle into a thin skein of froth. So far so good. A brief call away to deal with a small child and when I return there is a much thicker head. As I watch it is getting bigger, and the carbonation doesn't even seem all that strong. It's somewhat subdued in fact. The bottle promises floral, zesty hops and I don't think it lies. There is an element of summer garden in this, the floral character not a little unlike the scent I got a whiff of when opening up our cloche to water the lettuce and radishes. Not sure about the grapefruit. Even so, this is a proper golden ale that comes up burnished and fiery like the setting sun with a thinner gold catching the light toward the bottom of the glass. Willow was less romantic - she reckons it smells of dried vomit, but "not in a bad way".
Taste is very much on the carbonated end of the spectrum and lacks the nuances of the recent ales that I have had. It's a bit yeasty with a high malt content as it cascades down from the lips toward the back of the mouth. There are hints of the grapefruit that are promised toward the rear of the taste as the initial rush fades and it all gears up for the after - these hang around at about the point where one would swallow food if it reached. It's not unpleasant, more unexpected. This is very much like pink grapefruit juice after a breakfast and may be enhanced in this regard by my having a pork pie because I am fat and I can. Willow pronounced it a bit tangy, and then pulled the face one pulls when sucking a lemon, before announcing a grapefruit tang and pulling another face. Indeed, the bottle promises and the ale thus delivers. I can't claim it manages citrus fruits but, again, I have had a pork pie.
Is it refreshing and thirst-quenching? Hard to say. It's not like some of the ones I've had that I could claim this for but nor is it a dry blonde or a harsh citrus hit. I think it would pass the time neatly and the 4.5% ABV would preclude too much sessioning or the need for it to be a particularly big refreshing wash over the tongue. That opening smack of yeasty malt doesn't exactly do any favours but once that bubble has rolled, and roll this taste does, into the back end it does pick up nicely into the grapefruit and the more acidic taste of a proper bitter. I think it could very well grow on me and it certainly has its place, just not necessarily my first choice.
Enjoy this best, I think, on a camping trip in the early sunshine before lunch. Relax from a long walk, or better yet, a long swim, sit back in a canvas chair in the shade of some trees as the warm air begins to rise, put on some sunglasses and soak up the earned relaxation before taking food. Despite the strength this will not prevent you enjoying an afternoon of activities but will aid in that relaxed transition between strain and excitement, allowing for a pleasant repose and unhurried conversation over the table afterward.