Thursday, 20 April 2017

Island Records Session IPA

This can came with music recommendations, how could I not try it? I'll be honest though, I am pants at finding the music they suggested. I did find Slave the Rhythm by Grace Jones though and that was the third of the options presented on the can to accompany this Island Records can of Session IPA from Two Tribes Ltd and that will just have to do for the evening. Ah, no, they are play lists, here I go, going for the party version...

It's an odd one as I'm actually having this as an illicit treat. Would you like to know more?

This made a bit of a fanfare on the opening of the can, a big hiss and plenty of action but then faded almost instantly to nothing. I know I keep saying this about canned ales but maybe I shall get used to it somehow. On the pour there was a big and active head that frothed up something bonkers and looked huge but then settled enough for more to be added and became a little creamier in aspect. However, it retained the froth and airy nature on the mouth when tasted and the big orange copper colour was no preparation for that big nose of mango and citrus fruits like lemon and lime. Definitely tropical and I can see why people may bring to mind sun-kissed beaches and the summer sun. I have never been to a sun-kissed beach, let alone in the summer, so I shall have to declare myself unable to really judge this one.

On the tongue this does not go into grapefruit, it instead heads toward pineapple and mango, again much like Lilt. Even so, the difference was enough that I got Willow to try it and her face didn't screw up like it had been sprayed with lemon juice and so I must count that as a win. She wasn't a fan, so that's more ale for me and an even bigger win. Basically this opens with the froth from the head that just doesn't stop, into the languid malt that lays a base for the spice of the yeast on the bubbles to rise from the depths and frolic atop the roof of the mouth. Here the mango and pineapple do their thing but less in the harsh mode of some carbonated beverage and more in line with a feeling of sinking low into the juice as the clouds scud overhead and cause a light show all their own. I don't really get the beach, I haven't been there, but I do get the late summer evening and feeling of warm satisfaction at a day well-spent with nothing much of anything done but done with purpose and deliberation. It is the taste of long summer day drifting into the evening and waiting for the stars to come out.

Each sip softens the taste a little more, so that the pineapple at the first go seems harsh and tart by comparison to what comes later in the drink. Gradually that mango loses the power and surprise and, instead, simply becomes the soft and mellow malt, devoid of the usual malt character, to position the pineapple and tropical flavours on display like at a middle class buffet in the middle of the 1970s. All that is missing is the avocado  (I shall be honest, I always think of Avagadro's number when I mention that fruit[?]). It mellows still further as you leave it to sit and breathe. Now that I have the right music list playing (having had to sign up to spotify to make it happen, honestly) I admit that they've done a stand-up job. This really does rather match the washed out island music vibe that I associate with doing my MA in Leeds. Why? Well, there were one or two summer trips along the M62 when I was listening to Radio 1 for some reason, and it feels like the sort of stuff they played when the air was too hot and my wheezing air conditioning was insufficient. Oh I did love that Micra.

On that note, this is almost melancholic in its effects, an ale to reminisce and look back, to reflect on a youth never really indulged and a life never truly lived. Not negatively, just that the mood of this ale doesn't match the youth I actually have direct experience of. There's a small amount of murk there, adding to that misty quality in the orange colour and allowing it to trap the soft light of the standard lamp in the dining room as though it were pulsing with the sounds of a late summer open-air club dancefloor. At 4.5% ABV this is strong enough to be felt but doesn't over-do the use of the alcohol and remains soft enough to be described as 'mellow' along with the playlist. I get the feeling that playing my Now 2000 collection would match this at least as well as the rather well-chosen music on the Spotify list. The ale shares that quality of the music in that it doesn't fade away to the after-taste so much as abruptly end or mould into the next sip seamlessly. I think there's a lot to commend this one!

Have it with music after the barbeque is over in the garden with like-minded friends. Watch the sun pick out the silhouettes of the trees and fences and houses as the birdsong rises and your music is loud enough to be heard but soft enough that it could be coming from far away rather than from the back door. Dance, in the dying light, and do so slowly and without any real regard for the spectacle. Close your eyes and keep the ale to one side, taking sips as and when required, lose yourself in the mottled dubbing of the dance music - euphoric relaxation style - and just enjoy the moment no matter how much of a pretentious tosser people think you look.

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