Sunday, 23 April 2017

Vermont Tea Party

Having finished a study task, as in a task set to study stuff, I charged the car and ensured that things were in order. Then I got bored and decided that reviewing an ale would be a good way to alleviate that feeling. Naturally I decided to go for something a little bit special and settled upon this Vermont Tea Party from Siren Craft Brewing because what's not intriguing about Earl Grey Tea in a beer? Okay, maybe that last part is just me. However, this brewery has not yet hit a false note and all the people I see drinking their stuff give positive views. I must assume they know what they're doing!

It's grey skies out and the dark is gathering, I predict more rain before bedtime. A pale will do a good job of conjuring some sunshine methinks. Would you like to know more?

Been quite a while since I had a snick on opening like the one supplied here, good carbonation was visible and it poured thin and fizzy with a persistent but thin head. It frothed briefly, enough for me to snap my shot, and then retired to a sort of velvety coating atop a surprisingly active and slightly murky light straw of a yellow brew. Strong malt on the nose, maybe something of the tea but that would be toward the delicate end of the spectrum. Chinook, citra and amarillo dominate with a freshness and clarity that only they can really bring and the whole thing is innocuous enough that Willow deigned to smell it despite being scathing about the fact that there is tea in it.

Big bubbles on the opening with a thin quality that reminds me of tea with lemon in terms of consistency if not taste. There is a definite citrus edge at first and this just carries over with a thin but competent malt into the middle of the mouth. Good feel to this and it moves quickly without hanging about, bit of the yeast surfaces there like a zeppelin rising through cloud cover into sunshine to meet biplanes over London in the First World War - fitting for the Earl Grey tea methinks - and then it disappears down the back without so much as a "by your leave". However, here the whole thing kicks up a gear with the lemon being the first flavour to come through and suffuse throughout the mouth from the back of the throat. This is then followed by the tea and a grassy hop experience that is actually rather nice and soothing. Mine has been chilled by dint of it being cold in the pantry, so about 8-10 degrees celsius, and I get the impression that this would work well enough at room temperature or even warmed up a little. That's got to be the tea.

It cuts through due to the bittering and clear hops used too, so that it is largely unaffected by my recent meal of fish cakes and wedges (I know how to live). Subsequent tastes allow that lemon zing to hit earlier and more noticeably supported by a bigger tea hit though that remains on the thin side. I like what they've done here and I think it's a pretty nice brew - especially as it is a rather forgiving 3.6% ABV, exactly the sort of drink I need at the end of a weekend so that I don't feel that I shall be unable to function at work tomorrow! Mind you, it's perhaps not my sort of thing. As much as I like lemon and tea (I know, what's wrong with milk?) and as much as I like the brewery (and I do) I think I actually prefer my ales to have a bit more body to them. To that end, if one must adulterate ale with other substances, I remain wedded to the idea of chocolate and coffee. I'm not saying this is not a nice ale, because it is a nice ale and you could invite the Vicar over and offer some as a spot of tea, but it hasn't made me want to buy more in right now.

I think this would work well at a larger get together when inviting people over for no particular occasion. Maybe you've all been out for the day or have been playing games, either way, getting a round of these in would serve to ease that transition from the activity part of the day to the part where conversation happens later into the night. You'd follow this with some session IPAs or lighter pales if you wanted to keep the night going or a decent heavy stout if you wanted an early bedtime. In short, a teatime ale that would work well at a cooked lunch.

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