Aaaah, that's nice. I'm now officially on holiday following my awful mix up in booking dates to go and have caught up the family who set off ahead of me. The first point of order, of course, is meeting up with my mother and her husband, who treated me to this little number in his place of work, which was very kind of them indeed. The meal was lovely, they were showing replays of the recent cricket twixt Pakistan and England and the children disappeared to play in the soft play place when the meal was done (having actually eaten all their food, will wonders never cease?).
However, in the Meantime I had this Yakima Red - which is not nearly as pun-tastic as I had hoped when I came up with it. Never mind, it came in an odd-shaped bottle and looked rather interesting and I was treated to it so what better way to mark the beginning of a few days' holiday and put the stress of travel behind me? I can't complain, the Scotch Corner charge went perfectly well and the A66 was actually a rather pleasant drive. And now it's bloomin' 'ot and lovely.
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The first thing to note is the lovely shape of the bottle, this was genuinely what first attracted me to sample this one. And then there is the pour, it pours pretty much as one would expect from a chilled ale, with plenty of thickness to it, but it also does so with a surprising amount of carbonation and a good deep red aspect that caught the light nicely. A pungent aroma surrounded and swirled the glass after the pour making straight for that heavy bitter hop hit that one would expect from a Pacific Hop. There's an element of clarity here, a little like citra, but it remains spiced and raw like one would usually associate with fuggles back in the UK. This was already shaping up to be no slouch and with plenty of depth to it. My companions were less impressed, pronouncing that it smelled much like beer and that there were indeed hops present. Willow did opine that there was a spicy edge to this one beyond her usual assertion of citrus fruits when faced with New World hops.
Great head on this one that stuck around for a bit but didn't try and outstay its welcome, which was nice. This led to a little pause after pouring before getting into the tasting and I don't see that as a bad thing. I had this one with gammon and egg, which is one of my favourite meals, and the ale matched rather well to be honest. That spicy edge was maintained onto the tongue, carrying with it a hit of hops that was big enough to subsume the salty meat and then roll over the tongue to fill the mouth with activity and flavour. The strong bittering nature of this brew was handled beautifully by a soft and forgiving malt that took it down through the middle and then disappeared as the whole thing neared the end, allowing a flash of bitterness and a certain dry quality as the aftertaste was reached. Here there was a pause, the 4.1% ABV playing a small role here in support, before fading and allowing the gammon and eggs to re-dominate proceedings.
In many ways, then, this rather nice red ale did the job that I needed it to do. It accompanied a meal, playing centre-stage when called upon to make its mark and then fading from prominence when I wanted to move onto the next part of the food before me. It allowed for good conversation, Willow was most impressed when she guessed correctly that this one was from the Pacific, and it meant that the flavours of the meat and the vegetables were sharpened by the bittering. In fact, I suspect this is the sort of ale that will do well in pubs up and down the land as the sort of thing that will keep punters gassing and make them come back for more. Me? I knew that I had a couple of bottles of Montezuma's Chocolate Lager (here) waiting for me back at the lodge and so I wasn't so easily drawn in.
Still, a good thirst-quencher this one, that fits a sunny day nicely with its fizz and the tartness that contrasts the meal and allows the heat of the day to be kept at bay. The chill of the ale here was nice but by no means all that gave this one character nor what made it so effective at doing the job I chose it for, that honour has to belong to the hops. That edge, I keep using that term, really allows this to pop and to support food strongly. I think I can safely say that I enjoyed this and would recommend it to you should you chance across it.
Best enjoyed when watching a sporting event, make sure you pack it carefully in the cool box and then produce it with a flourish at the interval (being half-time or lunch or whatever). Accompany with picnic food like Scotch Egg or sausage rolls and ensure that there is conversation about your chosen sport. Don't be a shy and retiring violet, make up the stats you don't know, quaff the ale without being precious and get into bawdy comparisons of various sportspeople just because you can. If you don't have other ales waiting for you then make sure you have more than one, you'll thank me for it later.