Sunny days are here again, even if there are one or two showers about, and I am feeling on a bit of a health kick, so it stands to reason that I shall be buying in some veg and trying to make myself that most healthy of meals: a stir fry. With some sauce in a jar. Oh, wait, there's more than 5% of this bottled sauce that's sugar, you say? Around 5% salt? Oh, right. Bugger. Nice though. And, as I'm into the whole matching food with ale (or vice versa) then I shall be having the Neck Oil from Beavertown because I've been meaning to have it and review it for a while and it seems like the best time to be doing it.
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The first thing to note is the rather large amount of activity this displayed upon opening, even as I poured it, and I got a bit of an ice-cream pour with a big frothy head and a thin yellow underbelly. After the big stouts and fruity numbers I've been having lately I'll confess that this was really not what I was expecting and I wasn't sure what to make of it. After it had calmed some I poured in more from the can and took a big whiff. There was something rounded and smooth, full and soft about the aroma, another tentative sniff and I had something like sweetened lemons - this was before I started cooking - and with a sugary side-element to it. Indeed, in both aspect and aroma there was a definite sense of lemon meringue pie about this brew and I'm not sure what to make of that.
First taste, as I threw in the bacon with the browning onions and started the noodles, was more of that rather odd sensation. Good fizz and plenty of body to something that looked thin, which was a pleasant surprise, and then through to the middle of the taste with a sweet centre surrounded by tart citrus. Once again, the inescapable feeling that I was drinking lemon meringue pie - reminding me of the taste from the sort that my garndmother used to get in on special occasions or the sort that one used to get at restaurants instead of the ubiquitous chocolate fudge cake. Think the sort of stuff that had a soft and chewy, almost like whipped cream, meringue on top with a baked crust to it. Then there was that odd and very yellow lemon section beneath. I used to love them as a child because the bitterness of the lemon would nicely offset the sweetness of the topping and it was one of the few foods that I would mix parts together on the fork.
Combined with the smell of bacon and vegetables in sesame oil, and the heat of the cooking, I shall confess that it does a decent job of quenching thirst and providing some feeling of being sated liquid wise. Which is no mean feat at a 4.3% ABV, though you'd be hard pushed to taste the alcohol in this one, and from something that would likely serve to dehydrate rather than fill you with water. That crested wave remains sweet and with an addition of bitterness, so that even Willow suggested sweetened lemon with a frown and then agreed with my assessment of lemon meringue pie. The same sort when pressed. There is a softened aftertaste with plenty of sugary sweetness remaining. It's almost like an ice-cream ale but lacks the body and depth of that sort of style.
As much as I respect Beavertown (and I think you can assume that I do given previous reviews of the brewery's wares) I'm not sure what I think about this one. Possibly their first hollow note for me. I can see where this might have something of a large niche and I can see how many people would rate this for precisely the reasons that I am not a fan. It is a sweet and bitter number with a soft overall feel and a low enough ABV to be had in a bevy or, at least, in a brace but it's a little too like cheap and cheerful pie for my tastes this evening. Perhaps if I hadn't paired it with a chinese-style dish or had it in the garden under beating sunshine and in a heatwave... I don't know.
Enjoy best as a dessert-style ale after food rather than with it. Relax and take big quaffs with a second and third to follow. Wear the sunglasses, worship the sun for a bit with some Piz Bruin -10SPF sun oil and a shaved head on the sun terrace. Call at passersby and offer them advice that sounds abusive even if it is well-meant and then smile more than is strictly necessary. Enjoy and pour another, it's that time of year, watch the tennis and lose yourself in the sweetened lemony haze.