Sunday, 30 October 2016

Pendle Witches Brew

It's Hallowe'en, more or less, and it has arrived at long last. I've been meaning to give centre-stage to this brew for a few years now, well, at least since it played a role in the Hallowe'en Showdown I did a while back (see that on this link). After that, and it definitely won, I had a few more times and always enjoyed it but always forgot to take a picture, resulting in the sad truth that, for an ale I enjoy so much, Pendle Witches Brew has never appeared properly on this blog. This year I planned to rectify this and give it a proper review all of its very own.

And now I have a picture, shakily taken on my new camera phone in the darkness of the evening as the night has drawn in, the car is on charge and Willow is complaining of the cold. We have company over and they are not an ale fan, more's the pity, but we have been out to the local supermarkets where I have weighed myself down with a fresh haul. Yay!

Wait, where was I? I was here, about to review and ale! Would you like to know more?

Pours well and with nary a bit of fuss from the bottle. Sparkling, fizzing like the soda one sees being added at posh restaurants, but without too much of head forming. That's either me on the pour or a result of it being stored a bit long, hard to say and I'm not that hot on my ales yet. Still, good soft and rounded nose in the air after the initial flurry of wort-like head has died down and the light golden hues catch the dim energy-saving lights in the midst of a warm red glow from the carpet beyond (where you can see the packed up remains of the Boy's toys). Anyway, yes, rounded and soft nose with stripes of citrus lightly salted across the top. A ruby sheen is caught as I pull it toward me, casuing me to pause and marvel at it for a moment.

Opens with a full and fruity citrus hop sensation, like one would expect from a golden, and then fizzes briefly into a soft and brief malt. Warmly cascades down the sides of the mouth without making too much of itself. Light and airy it is at this stage, the sort of ale that I think would do better in the summer, come to think of it, and so it is odd to be seeing this style as a staple around this time of year. Much younger and more supple than the green-faced hag on the front of the bottle would have you believe, the sort of ale that would play the lead role in Wicked or else the sort of bloke that would have you wondering at the bar. Then it almost stops, just disappears, maybe the result of some magic spell or else some kind of potion. A vague and faint dry aftertaste that barely registers and hangs around. In this aspect it reminds me more of the goldens over this last summer, like A-Hop-Alypse Now (see link) or even the softer Maple Gold (see this link), than it does of the sort of fiery numbers like Late Red (see here).

That's not to say that this is disappointing, just that it has clearly formed a staple so long that I forgot about it when having my summer ales. I like it. I suspect that it would perform more strongly on the hot days of the summer past after some light physical exertion. Not that I could carry much of that out. Anyway, back to the ale, this particular bottle is a tad flat and I suspect that's how come I found it where I did. I have had this and it has been much better indeed. It is still nice and it still rates being in my favourites but it is not the world-beater I had back two years ago. Does what it needs to do and, at 5.1% ABV, keeps the kind of strength one needs at this time of year.

Enjoy this best in the summer, surprisingly, chilled from the fridge at the picnic table under a canopy of blue sky neath the burning sun. Stretch out, close your eyes and savour the experience, let the fizz do the job of delivering the soft and rounded hops on the bed of cooling malt and quench that raging thirst built up across the day. Pull down the rim of your hat, don the sunglasses that are a few sizes too large and just luxuriate - you've probably earned it at some point and, if you haven't, enjoy the moment snatched anyway.

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