Tuesday, 2 May 2017


A sunnier and warmer day called for something a bit special this evening to celebrate. I plumbed for cooking some grilled salmon with thyme and parsley, a bit of cous cous with coriander, lime and tobasco sauce coupled with some florets of broccoli. As a member of the bourgeoisie I know just how to roll and, as a beardy tosser with a gut, I know how to drink ale with that melange. This evening's ale therefore is the rather cleverly named Tart - Bakewell Sour from Thornbridge.

Astute readers will note that this is on a Tuesday, because I am switching my review days to Tuesdays from Sundays. Why? Well, it better reflects when I actually drink ale and it leaves the weekends free for occasional special posts. Now that that part that no one cares about is over, would you like to know more?

I was wary of this and had been waiting for the right time to deploy it. Salmon with a hot sauce in cous cous seemed like the best time to deploy a sour. On opening there was a decent bit of carbonation in the neck of the bottle, like whisps of mist atop the river running through Bakewell itself, but minus the ducks. Like the medieval architecture and seventeenth century sheep-dip bridge this had the aroma of sourness about it, mellowed by age and with the barest hint of something sweet and close lying beneath. I can detect an element of the Bakewell tart after which this ale is named, but less sweet and savoury with more of an aged feeling. That may just be because I am suggestible.

The thin orange colour cascaded neatly into the glass with a constant skein of fizzing on the roof of the glass but then there was no head nor obvious gouts of bubbles. Like traffic in the town of Bakewell things moved slowly and carefully. There's more of a malt on the nose once this has been fully unleashed and this is welcome, but also a hint of the 6% ABV hit to come. Once onto the lips the zing begins more like lemon and lime juice, not sweetened and ready to add to pancakes, and then into the mouth. A pleasing explosion of bubbles with some yeast hanging around like a day labourer in the Depression or hanging around that bridge before the 1980s. An element of fruit, almost grapefruit but not quite that tart, hits the sides of the mouth and then flushes into the middle with a good push of that lemon and lime zing from the opening and from the aroma.

As it moves toward the back of the mouth Mayday crowds gather round the Maypole of your tastebuds. That sour fruitiness suddenly goes juicy and then smashes into the back of the throat in a way that makes you almost swear this is one of your five-a-day. Even if that ought to be eight. Anyway, I digress, this is a good solid finish to a big sour that does all the right things for this drinker. It's not a stout, what is? Nor is it the sort of ale that I would have of an evening all alone. It works well this evening because it couples nicely with the sharp heat of the tobasco in the cous cous and the warmth of the day that had preceded it. I suspect that it would fare less well if I had come at it with no food or if the food had been more musty or even a roast. That said, this is moreish and leaves a lip-smacking sensation after each rather generous quaff from the glass. I am glad that I got this in and glad that I have reviewed it, you can't really ask for more than that from an ale.

Enjoyed best with something suitably middle-class and faux-heated with spice. Not a curry or something Moroccan but something Mexican or Brazilian. Pour it, sip it between mouthfuls, eat like your life depends on it and then settle back at the end to finish the remaining ale at a more leisurely pace, safe in the knowledge that your hunger is sated and the night is yet young. Maybe sit outside if able and the children aren't calling from their beds, forcing you indoors, or if you aren't drinking so late at night that it's dark. On that note, probably more of a summer ale than mid-spring!

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