I felt like something a bit Welsh again, because they have been rather good to me in the past, and so I had this lurking in the pantry. I'd picked it up in the summer as part of a batch to make buying the Elvis Juice a little less desperate and more economically viable. Because buying more ales is always good. Being a pale this couldn't be stored too long and so it just had to be drunk, didn't it? It's Butty Bach from Wye Valley Brewery and I rather like the simplicity of the label. And, yes, pales seem to be my tipple after the stouts on a Sunday so...
This should be a decent look at a decent pale, would you like to know more?
It opened with a fair bit of fanfare and a whisp of carbonation that suggested it had been waiting for some time to be opened, which I suppose was entirely true. It pours with all the excited nature of a terrier yapping about the ankles, resulting in my failure to avoid a massive ice-cream like head forming and then sticking around for far longer than I would have liked. Part of this was probably down to the fact that it had been stored over a very hot summer and that it had been opened in a house that was well heated without being chilled first. So, I dunno, I'm going to blame me for that particularly poor pour. Good colour, slightly on the copper side (though the image doesn't really show that well) and yellow in the light. Nice aroma of spice on the malt, a faint citrus hoppiness, and it wasn't too bonkers moving through to the living room.
The head did diminish enough for me to get through it to the beer below after sitting down, allowing me to get a bit of the citrus hops on the opening and then into a less than active middle where the malt takes the main stage and allows the hops to do some light strumming of guitars at the back with some spice from the yeast on the snare drum. More jazz than pop music and definitely more mellow than your average rock - nothing like a synthesizer in sight either so no electronic bleeps and bloops atop this light background - and something to sway to rather than bop too. A second sip reveals more of the hops and the cumulative effect allows them to take over the vocals before the long fade at the end of the song into a slightly melancholic aftertaste that relies on the bittering hops and the slight citrus running throughout.
Dry at the back, a little malty on the opening and a good moist sensation around the centre of the tongue on the main taste. It's not a bad bit of pale and it does the job that I wanted from it, being after a meal with a bit of strong flavour, in that it calmed the mouth down to get to the evening and thence to bed. Well, that is still to come, but this seems to be the sort of thing that will perform well. At 4.5% ABV it's a tad on the stronger side but seems to be a middle-of-the-road brew for the sort of thing that is now standard. It has not harmed my impression of Welsh ales, despite the rather over-active head being a bit over-the-top, and the hoppiness means that it is a good accompaniment to the stouts I'm having on the weekend.
Enjoy best with some battered fish or else some lightly grilled chicken (in batter) and a decent salad side. Even though it's dark and cold on the evening and the weather retains a certain crisp cold on the wind you'll find yourself warmed and glad of the pairing. Turn off the television, settle into a chair that has either plenty of stuffing or an element of rocking to it, make a big show of saying "ah, that hit the spot" and then take big swigs rather than necking it or savouring this brew. It does well in large amounts and it is good enough to withstand some big flavours or, with something a little more nuanced, to become part of the meal.