This was picked up at my local supermarket for just one pound and, after a day of some grey skies and plenty of work going on, I thought it necessary to kick back with a lovely evening meal cooked by the fair hand of my wife, Willow, and a decent bit of golden ale. Because sometimes the sun shines not from a blue sky but from a half pint glass and this was one of those times, right?
I refer to tonight's offering of Sunny Dayz by Hog's Back Brewing Co. and bottled and distributed by the Great British Brewing Co who are an imprint of the mighty Aldi. I must assume that they have made some rather good deals as I have already enjoyed their ales with Red Rye (see here) back in October and Land of Liberty (see here) in November, and I have a few more yet on standby.
Anyway, the plan for the evening is to be completely out of season with a golden ale designed for summer like I had stouts back in the summer. Would you like to know more of the contrary beer review for the evening?
First things first, the bottle makes a number of boasts and claims about being mandarin and citrus hopped, and it does indeed deliver on opening and pouring. Okay, you have to get close, but you get a big nose full of hops and there is that mandarin smell. It pours well with a small but persistent white head over the top of an orange golden ale that has some bubbles clinging to the sides but is deep and juicy in aspect. That hoppy odour continues as you bring it to the mouth ready to taste and that head hangs around at a small amount, this is good ale.
At this point there is the taste. It opens with strong hops, orange as advertised, on the tongue, exploding at high octane and then into the storm of the soft malt to deliver a rather juicy middle. We have the mandarin as promised and a decent amount of delicate, almost floral, hops that mingle in and out of the main deal. At 3.8% ABV it doesn't feel like it is too strong and the alcohol makes a cameo appearance around the mid-point before dissolving behind the strong floral hops as they gather to rain down the back of the throat. Sure enough, there's a bitter edge down the sides and then it's all that mandarin as it brings the final lap and ends in a fruity and full aftertaste that, whilst not dry or moist, sits rather comfortably at the back there waiting for the next sip. And this is a sipping ale at this time of year.
As the beginning of Advent goes this is a strange choice, I guess, but it works for me and it works wonderfully in the context of the cold evening. I have to say that I was expecting this one to finally break me of my habit of praising Hog's Back and yet it hasn't done that at all. Like the light that is promised in Christian circles (and has been delivered already by Hindu ones) this golden ale does a decent job of lifting the gloom and the gathering dark of the advancing year. In short, this is a cheering little ale that does what I think golden ale should do and lifts the spirits.
Enjoy this best in the summer, the dog days, as you wait in vain for a rainstorm to ease the pressure of the heat and know that you have exhausted everything you can think of to do in your down time. Instead you work hard and toil in the increasingly sweaty indoors, then come home to this having been chilled and knock it back with a light and airy salad for an evening meal. You can also enjoy it pretty much any other time you like and use it to remind you that there are good things on this Earth. It worked for me.