Thursday, 15 June 2017

Raindrops on Roses

It is getting a bit brighter and warmer, so I should probably see about interspersing my lovely stouts and porters with other styles before I get (even more) boring. I picked this up from the local bottle shop ages back on a whim, mainly because I liked the look of it and I'd seen people enjoying it on the Twitters and I had some spare cash, hoping that it would be a decent little ale to pass the time between my new passion for stouts. I refer, of course, to the earworm that is Raindrops on Roses from Thornbridge and the winner of a homebrew competition in 2016.

Not sure I can really relate to whiskers on kittens or even brown paper packages all tied up with string, give me the full throated roar of a thunderstorm any day of the week. Would you like to know more?

This had no real noise on opening but there was a slight whisp of carbonation from the neck of the bottle as it began the pour, which was nice. The bottle is brown glass but the pink of the label seems to be in the liquid through the glass, despite the straw like yellow on the pour. As the head dissipates, and it is a vigorous one that goes quickly, the yellow fades into a sort of pinky-orange at the top, or where you look through most of the liquid. The bouquet is delicate, with definite strands of rose in there,but mainly dominated by a slightly tangy fruitiness that Willow declared put her in mind of the Island Sessions IPA (click here) and the Lupuloid IPA (here). I don't see the same assault of grapefruit and pineapple but there is a hint lurking in there. Nice and soft, though, so I can see the texture in the nose being very similar to those brews.

Once on the tongue this is surprisingly good. I was expecting to have this and enjoy it, don't get me wrong, that's why I picked it up in the first place. What I was not expecting was the sheer power of the rose and the wheat in making a soft and mellow-tasting ale. It has its tropical fruit element, to be sure, and does rather head in the pineapple direction but more the sort of pineapple served with gammon or on a pizza than the sort from a tin in breakfast buffets or as a cut-price working-class pudding of the sort I grew up with. Nothing so sharp and tangy. An element of soapiness creeps into the nose as you pull the glass over the end of your nose to take a sip but that's no bad thing it is merely the best description I can make of the experience. A hint of orange around the sides, a brief slicing action from the rose coupled with some sharp wheat yeatiness spearing through to the roof and sides of the mouth and then it fades back into a rather nice whole.

I hate to say it, but this does rather beat the socks off the wheats I have had in the past. I'm not sure that Blue Moon (see here) can even hold a candle to the overall flavour and delicacy of this brew. It also does rather beat out the Hitachino Nest: White Ale (click this link) from last month too, and the delicate orange peel of this is superior, in my humble opinion, to that displayed by the Japanese ale. I'm not sure you can add an orange slice to this, but the slight orange tang that is carried here is enough. I can imagine that fruit would be added and really enhance it. I digress, back to the taste.

Drying as it exits the main part of the mouth, the tide retreats back into the sea and merges with the horizon, a breeze develops, bringing with it those rose petals again. I am actually a bit surprised by the difference they make. I mean, okay, roses, but I was not expecting to taste them so much and so often in the brew. Nor was I expecting to enjoy this. I like wheat ales, I do, but with my recent hit on stouts and such I was expecting to sort of feel that it wasn't really a big enough hitter. Along with it being 5.3% ABV it seemed as though this would be a bit light, a bit alright, but nothing to write home about. Instead I am having quite the experience with this. I forget what I paid for it, but it was totally worth whatever the price was and well-worth picking up! I often say that I'm not going to run out and buy a brew after tasting it but I feel as though it would be worth doing with this one!

Overall, then, this is an ale that is a rather pleasant surprise. A wheat ale through and through with some interesting flavours and one of the softest textures I think I've tried in any non-stout. It's bigger than my usual relaxation fayre (though rather in-keeping with this year's quality of brew) and it tastes even moreso like I would expect given the name and the promises made on the bottle. I can see why this won the homebrew challenge and offer yet more plaudits to the brewer - Phil Sisson. It's not going to take the top spot of the ales so far this year but it does well to stand up in the august company.

Enjoy this best having had food, with a bright evening and a warm feeling. Family frolic about, maybe in the garden bouncing on trampolines or playing with plastic soldiers and making explosions by bursting packaging bags, and there are birds in the trees and darting down from the eaves to eat the insects flying in the lazy air. The roads are quiet due to the late hour and films have been watched. In that gloaming time of dusk, still lethargic from the sunshine, you open the bottle and take long slow sips with plenty of pauses to properly admire the craft that brought you this slightly hazy Belgian wit. Now you know you need to Google famous Belgian stand-ups and, with this ale, you'll have the time to do so!

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