Another day of marking and another day of summer. It's been a particularly wet one round our way and there has been a sudden spike afterwards of humidity, as befits the calm before a storm, but then we've had some pretty high wind instead so... who knows? Apart from that I can claim to have had a rather nice day all round if I'm honest. Plenty of warning before tea allowed me to put the ale in the fridge to prepare and a happy accident of forgetfulness allowed me to have it after food, thereby allowing the Wet Your Whistle from Box Steam Brewery to be properly chilled before opening.
On top of that, it was a pretty posh meal. Very middle class and privileged - hand breadcrumb-coated plaice fillet with potatoes that were rolled in grated garlic, Parmesan and that stuff you put on pasta and Italian food that you get in jars and can be green or red. I forget the name all of a sudden. Dang, and the jar is all the way over in the kitchen so I can't even get out of my chair and check. Oh well, so much for the illusion of class. Onto the ale!
Would you like to know more?
You may recall this was from the Aldi beer festival a while back and, yes, it's been waiting around to be drunk ever since - even though the festival is long finished and none of the ales can now be found by me. Which is a real shame as I still hanker after an A-Hop-Alypse Now (here) every now and again. Still, this is not that, this is something else and so I shall focus on this, however forlornly. It is not a bad ale for the sort of person that looks back on previous drinks and sighs, this is something of a pick me up. It bills itself as having a fruit and hop aroma and it is not joking. Though I shall quibble slightly and state categorically that I feel that they are one and the same. There is a hint of spice atop that fruit nose that suggests yeast and malt, to me, but I can say it is close enough to the likes of the IPA brigade (think Barry Island IPA here) that I can see why they simply chose "hops" along with the fruit. That fruit, by the way, is the tangy end of melons and mango, which is no bad thing. It's pretty big.
And that goes straight into the taste too. Big on the first taste, touching down on the tongue like a cyclone or waterspout coming with all the terror and fury it can possess. A veritable boulder of concentrated hops that rolls straight into the middle of the mouth and then explodes outwards in a citrus-based levelling of all structures in the vicinity. Like an air-burst bomb the whole thing then combusts with the high levels of carbonation doing a sterling job of mixing that malt, very much a feature of this ale, with the tornado of hops and fruit, peppered with the flying debris of the yeast flung like splinters hard into the sides of the mouth. Although it is by no means a thin feel there's little action at the edges, like the calm and interesting cloud formations on the edge of the cumulonimbus anvil cloud they are pretty to see but don't do much in the final analysis. The alcohol hangs back before delivering its own coup-de-grace in the final moments, the full power of the 4.5% ABV hitting all at once so that it feels so much stronger than it actually is, and then fading into almost nothing at the back of the throat. No, once the tornado has ripped through and left all shattered in its wake there is the tinge of grapefruit all around the edges of where it hit.
Willow opined that it carried that same treacle texture as the last effort (Maple Gold here) and that this was no bad thing. Again I can't follow. She agreed on the bitterness, however, and suggested that it tasted like beer, being bitter. By which she means she thought it a decent bitter. I can relate, but I'm not sure about the treacle thing. This is very much an assault on the taste-buds by a whirlwind driving all before it, my highly middle-class tea had been strongly flavoured by the cheese and the thing I can't remember the name of, but all was carried before the ale and, as I continue to drink it, not much of the tea remains. Instead I sit in the ruins marvelling at the majesty of the spectacle and ruminating on the odd sensation of grapefruit flavouring hanging around the edges of my mouth.
This is a powerful brew that has the sort of feeling of a storm - big and humid with close air that can make your headache with the sort of temperature that doesn't usually have you wondering about getting indoors. Brooding and full despite the gleaming copper colour that presents and catches even a little light and becomes almost glowing. Better suited, perhaps, to airy spring days when the blue of the sky and the freshness of the breeze allows you to bull through the heavy hops and fruit of this heady brew. Deceptive, but in a good way, the kind that you will shake your head at, then order a second.