I appear to be having a lot of canned ales this Yuletide season. I have no clue why. Still, here we are again, with a roaring fire (though I suspect more the grate that lets the fumes out of making the noise rather than the plasma crackling over wood) and time on my hands. Well, sort of time on my hands. I could have the time if I... you know what, let's just go with the fact that I have some ale to be reviewed, shall we? It's Black Betty Black IPA from those folks at Beavertown and the last can that I got when I went down to visit me Dad. Picked this up for a princely sum (north of £2) in the micro-pub because I hadn't seen Beavertown anywhere else.
So, now that we have a picture proving that slightly out of date IPA goes and looks like an ice cream when an eejit fails to pour it properly, would you like to know more?
First things first, this was out of date. I checked and I'd left it a little too long, so it is almost a month out of date according to the BBE. Secondly, this is strong, damn' strong, at 7.5% ABV and smells it too, there's no stealth or subtlety with this badger. Really fruity on the nose though, big and fresh and hoppy, and that is nice. I had a sip from the can and learned that, really, you can't be drinking this ale from the can, it's a bad plan. Still, that smell is fresh and citra like but with a massive explosion of hops lurking beneath that makes me think of rich cherries (though, I shall be honest here, this is nothing like the cherry I had when having Petrus - see this link). For want of a better description, this smells of black IPA and it smells how you'd expect a brew of that nature to smell. There's rich fruit, head clearing freshness and a bed of soft malts on the air that allows the madness to be tempered somewhat despite the fact that it remains untamed.
Sweet on the tongue, soft down the sides and a hefty blast of hops over the top like the wind on a tropical storm. Rain lashes the top of the mouth, hurling itself sideways, so that the whole thing gushes around the teeth like a storm tide raging against a harbour wall. Luckily the residents of this village have been evacuated and the whole place is a temporary construction whose damage will be severe but expected. The head calms from the confectionery looking froth like the spume on top of the breakers, becoming more like a biscuity style head with all the promises of some fine wine in terms of the taste and the nature of the brew. A second sip follows and the bubbles present themselves within the big hits of the hops and the malt around the middle of the taste, they stick around long enough then fade to nothing to let the clarity reign on the dash, and it is a dash, to the end of the mouthful. The eye of the storm crests, all is calm, and then whirls out of view just as quickly to let the smooth malt and hops slash again at the coastline in the back of the throat. It slips down like it's trying to be a stout but leaves that curious dry edge that comes with it being an actual IPA.
There's a stickiness to the whole brew, as though there's been an addition of great amounts of sugar, but there's no mention of sugar in the ingredients list and the sweetness isn't so much as to make me think that this is an addition. I suspect that comes from being so long out of date and having been stored in a cold, but not well balanced, pantry. Mind you, I have filled the shelf under the stairs with stouts and milds now for aging. I digress, this is a nice brew and once again passes the high bar that I am finding with these canned ales. I had a Ruddles back in Leeds from a can and was impressed that it matched the bottle but have always felt that ales in bottles are just, well, better. the other night I was having a couple of ales watching a film and they were really nice from a bottle. But that's the thing, this is nice ale and it is canned for freshness. It couold have been bottled, maybe it will be or already has been, but for now it is canned. I like it and would have it again. This brewery has been knocking around the people I know online for ages and every time it is raved about. I am beginning to see why on only my second ale they produce.
In short, this can be enjoyed in many settings but probably best without a meal. It likes to breathe from what I can gather so be prepared to pour and wait a while before trying to neck it. Equally, it begs to be drunk in a crowded bar with conversation bubbling around you but no music. There are no fruit machines and no TVs showing, well, anything, just the rising tide of nattering locals and visitors. Maybe someone is playing shut the box and there's a dart board somewhere close by. Sup and soak in the atmosphere but, above all, have fun and wild conversation.