When I saw this in the bottle shop I kinda knew that I would be buying it soon and lo, it was so. I'm attempting to cook at the same time as drinking, which is always fun, but tonight I cook for many people all at once with different meals, including using butter to cook me some fried eggs whilst attempting not to set the smoke alarm off in the hallway as I apparently like a challenge. Indeed, tonight is the night I drink Weird Beard's Five O'Clock Shadow being an IPA of estimable character - by which I refer to its ability to gain esteem rather than being within finite probabilities - and apparently best served with Tex-Mex food.
So, of course, I'm having it with ham, eggs and chips because I am contrary and all that. Also, as I am a heathen, I have left it chilled only to the temperature of the cupboard under the stairs. Would you like to know more?
On opening I did blow away some of the white gaseous residue of the carbon dioxide from the neck of the bottle and took a sniff as I did - tropical like with a faint hint of something full and fruity. Once poured, with a big head but crystal clear in the glass with an amber glow not unlike the amber ales I've had nor the bitters, there was more space for the hops to do their thing and we had a big hit of hops with a citrus edge. So much so that I posed an orange carton behind the bottle to show the words "zesty and vibrant" as I thought that would be clever - that was the kind of zest (with a hint of orange, tis truth) that I smelled - and I was confirmed in my cleverness by Willow who opined that the the whole brew smelt 'citrusy' - she is a woman of great wordiness these days.
Anyway, after some interruptions from the meals, I returned to taste and was surprised by a much less explosive and bitter experience than I was expecting. The 7% ABV came through as warmth on the tongue from the beginning with a strong fruity sensation that was far from the dry and bitter that I was expecting. No, this was closer in mouthfeel to the Gamma Ray (click here) and the Lupuloid (click here) but without the feeling of drinking Lilt. Even though it has the fiery quality of Treason (click here) there was something of the amber about it... There was orange, certainly, but not the zesty kind, more the mellow and easy-drinking kind that comes with something sweet in a dessert more than a drink of freshly pulped oranges. Furthermore, there was a yeast to it, and not the bad kind either. This complimented the heat of the kitchen well, and did well in the rising steam and smells of butter and spitting eggs over the sausages almost setting fire to the grill. Maybe there's something vegetable in this, like roasted parsnips or something, and it was a really surprising taste.
More interruptions before I could take a second swig and confirm, but there it was again. Big and fruity on the tongue with a wave of warmed malt carried on a subtle but clear alcohol to the sides of the mouth with some minor tang on the very very edges of the whole affair. Bubbles pour over the tongue, shooting upwards to explode at the roof of the mouth and then the whole things swings into a new course to rendezvous with the back of the throat and there to hang, wobbling, for a moment on the edge, full of fruity promise and a decent amount of hops. Then back, down, and gone, to leave a surprisingly moist and cheerful aftertaste that leaves you smacking your lips and wondering about the yeast. So much so that I poured the last part of the bottle into the glass and did not worry about the sediment creating a bit of murk. No, this was a good a move, and it enhanced rather than detracted from the overall sensations of the brew.
I have to confess that I was not expecting such a fullness of flavour nor a wealth of mundane, rather than citrusy, fruits. There was an element of peach in the nose if you looked hard enough and that element was transferred into the taste as a subtle undercurrent to the whole thing. This was a good ale and one that I am glad that I picked up, accompanying my meal well and lasting much longer than I had anticipated. No quick drinking ale this one, it can be sipped and enjoyed if not savoured and meditated over. I wouldn't dash out and buy another one immediately, but if in a bind I would probably buy it again.
Enjoyed best, as the bottle states, with some spicy food that is a dry heat to counterbalance the full fruity moistness of the brew itself. Not sure you'd need a long day at work, just a long day in the sun would suffice or gardening or driving long distance. Any activity that leaves you with aches to soothe and a night that you can legitimately take off from other duties will suffice. Buy it and enjoy it, there's no need to session, no need to get company in or schedule a decent film, just enjoy the sensation of you and an ale for the evening.