Hard to categorise the offering tonight, it describes itself as Koln-style beer that is brewed like ale and then matured like lager. I have no real idea what to define this as in terms of my tags and I have decided to go with lager and pale, which is the best I can do I guess. Looking forward to it and I must point out that this was a gift from a student of mine saying goodbye to start exams. Thank you that student, you know who you are, for this rather nice looking Tzara from Thornbridge.
Now that scene has been well and truly set and my food is well and truly made to have with this bad boy, being soup from a can and some tortilla and dip, would you like to know more?
This pours quickly and looks incredibly thin with a big head. This calms and then settles to a thinner head atop the sort of thin looking brew that wouldn't look out of place on the sort of champagne style ale from Belgium. In this case it is almost clear and there is a strange thinness to the aroma too. Not a bad thinness, by the way, just a thin one that rips through and allows you to get a good whiff of the hops - being nameless fruity and erring toward the bitter and musty end of the hops scale. This has been well crafted, that much is clear, and there is a bit of surprise for someone as simple as me who looked at the label and assumed it would be darker. This had an air about it that worked well as I was cooking my food and fit the brightness as the sunshine poked back through the clouds in time to take the children to the park afterwards.
Once onto the tongue this does a good job of being light and tasty. I'm not usually a fan of the light side of ales, usually heading toward the stouts, but this one is actually just what the doctor ordered. It slips into the mouth without raising too much of a fuss and without going off the deep-end of being carbonated. Then it delivers the batch of spearing yeast before letting loose with a sort of dull cannonade of hops. Nothing destructive or nasty, the sort of peeling shot that works well in the 1812 Overture or else as some sort of salute at a royal event or something to honour a visiting diplomat from a country that the state likes. I like the cut of the jib of this one, it does things on the downlow and it plays around at the level I can cope with after a long day. It complements the meal rather than doing battle with it and then is safely imbibed at the end again, making a good comparison to the spicy salsa dip and working well with an episode of Doctor Who: Delta and the Bannermen with the Boy. The whole thing is slippery, but in a good way, so that it doesn't hang about for long but nor is it gone before you can appreciate it.
At 4.8% ABV this is no slacker and it must be noted that you can't just knock it back. However, having it as the sort of thing to keep sipping whilst eating allowed me to get a great deal from my rather unhealthy meal and my time watching the TV. It is light and airy in all the right ways, despite the obvious strength of the ABV, and it is the sort of brew that rather welcomes the coming of the summer rather nicely. I can imagine this doing well out in the park or slightly chilled from the hamper when having a picnic near the Trough of Bowland and making dams out of big rocks in the stream at the bottom of the hill. Mind you, I suspect it would be just as at home when watching loud sports in a corporate looking bar surrounded by the haze of testosterone of men talking about loud sports in suits. It would certainly be more at home there than I would!
Overall, this is best enjoyed with food of virtually any type and imbibed in company. Don't worry about matching correctly, this cares not for your umming and ahhing over it, and just get in the food. Each sip will serve to cleanse the palate and do double in bringing you some welcome relaxation. Maybe at the end of the day or even half way through it with plenty more activity and hard work to come - either way, this is the sort of light tasting ale that would allow you to feel relaxed and at peace with what must be done if not ready for sleep. Peppy, one might say.