Had this hanging around for a while after having some friends over and having it in a sequence with a couple of others, where it didn't fare so well, truth be told. However, I suspect that part of that was the unfairness of putting it up against the all-conquering Mocha that I'd had saved for a year or so. It follows, therefore, that on a rainy day and evening, when I've been in and out and all over the place, and despite having it chilling in the fridge in case of some sun and warmth, I would have this again and give it a little more free rein to do it's thing.
What is this strange little number? Why, it's Triple C by the brewers at Thwaites in their Crafty Dan imprint - a place to do odd things.
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First note is the citra on the nose, very distinctive and very clear, with that bittering but clear flavour of the New World hops. This is a proper hop-head ale and thus quite different from my fayre of late. It poured with a thick gloop-y texture due to being chilled so long and has a lovely deep orange colour and some decent carbonation which I suspect is held back by the chilling effect. Decent skein of a head that suggests there would be greater activity on a warmer setting and that smell is very nice indeed, I think I can safely say that I rather like the citra.
Once onto the tongue this livens up, big hop hit at first with big balls of citrus cannonade followed by the grapeshot and canister rounds of the centennial and citra providing palate cleansing action to prevent the foot-soldiers of the malt, even with bayonets of yeast fixed, from making too much ground. It blows into a cavalry charge of further hops across the middle of the taste, all bugles blaring and swords glinting in the sun, powering down through the smoke and chaos of the opening salvo so that no one can form squares. After the thundering charge there is a long slow retreat of the noise of battle, leaving the sort of feeling in the sides of the mouth that accompanies a salad that has been well-doused in vinaigrette and the sort of silence that in war movies means the action has passed but in real life would be filled with the groans of the wounded and the screams for mother. With this, it's the sort of pause one would expect after toiling in the garden under burning sunshine on your back before embarking on a meal of meat. It is at this point that I realise that the 5.3% ABV plays a very small role in all of this, which is a direct contrast to the role played in the Hefeweizen a few reviews back (here, if you're interested).
All through this the head makes valiant attempts to reflower, like the parade ground glory of uniform in the early nineteenth century all marred with mud and wounds, and that citra carries on doing its work of demolishing other smells in the vicinity. However, the malt never quite manages to assert itself on the tongue, no matter how much it swirls and how many tastes you take, the hops do their job of maintaining the high ground and firing down on all who dare pass by so that the army simply cannot be dislodged. Aftertaste is dry and flavoursome, remaining clear, reminding you of the conditions after the major battles in the old days when campaign season was marked by the dry weather and the hope for no rain because then the powder would be too wet for cannon and muskets to do their work. In fact, yes, there is a certain Continental feel to this ale despite it being New World hops, I am minded of the sort of ales I have seen served and drunk in Belgium and France. It has a sort of quality that would work well in open air drinking accompanied by thick gravy or rustic cuts of bacon and vegetables.
Enjoy best after a day standing in the line, making sure that someone higher up the chain of command knows best when to deploy in squares or retreat in a line formation. Stay away from the columns and get very sweaty in the terminable, but survivable, boredom of being in a part of the battle where the action just isn't. You can while away the hours in the days that follow with this ale in hand telling anyone who'll listen of your integral acts on the day in question or just the story of how you saw it all unfold with your very own eyes. Make sure its summer and there's people who will buy you another round in congratulation of your story.