This one was sent to me by someone I know on the Twitter and I had it and enjoyed it and promised a review. Alas, I had it before the marking began and so was rapidly snowed under with work until I could no more type a review than I could raise my head at the end of evening before going to bed and starting the whole marathon once more in the morning. What I'm trying to say is that this review has waited a criminally long time to be produced! No matter, it is here now, and I am pleased to be reviewing the rather excellent Southville Hop, an American IPA from Bristol Beer Factory in rather a delectable bottle.
Of course I took the opportunity to have this in my garden as it is the summer and it was in the stirrings of the recent heatwave (which I seem to be mentioning in every review at the moment) and I sat with it in the purple seat by the lovely painted fence, all courtesy of Willow, assailed by the smells of the flowers in the deep bed and the wildflowers spilling into the lawn. Which, now as I think of it, probably needs to be mown again. Because of course it does. Enough of this, would you like to know more?
This opened with the characteristic snick of an ale that, though being chilled for some time, had still made a rather long trip through the postal system. Which is to say that it was a bit lively but calmer than it had any right being. It pours well into the glass, a proper example of 'spilling' from the bottle and creates a thin but decent enough head with a sparkle of bubbles catching the light. Even cooled there is a distinct aroma of the fresh citra and some decent simcoe that I can recall from the rather amazing Cloudwater brew with the same earlier this summer (see here). Whatever, the fresh citra and the flowery simcoe do a great job of mingling with the scents of my garden in a positive and powerful manner so that it is not hard to simply sit back and enjoy that without being rushed to take the first mouthful. An opportunity I took and enjoyed to the fullest extent that I could. As you can see, the wildflowers were exploding around it despite the slightly darker aspect of the sky and so the aroma was a big part of this brew.
Once onto the tongue this behaved exactly as you would expect from an IPA, with a big fruity burst at the beginning tempered by the huge freshness of the citra and then settling back to a full and blown IPA kind of malt. It filled the mouth with a pungent hit of hops, surfing a wave of bubbles that speared forth with the yeast through the blanket of fresh citra and the softer aspect of the simcoe taking over around the middle of the taste. The roof of the mouth comes in for a sensitive battering and then it all swills and slips down to the back of the throat like a wave of, well, malt. Here it does not hang about but goes straight down into the throat with nary a whisper and no burning from the quite heavy 6.5% ABV, making this a dangerous brew as it is much stronger and heavier than the taste and the aspect would suggest. Somehow the experience matches the colour and I don't know how better to explain that. I can find no beer that matches that colour with the taste as well as this one does and, for that reason alone, this brew deserves some serious respect.
An aftertaste borne of summer this, it dries and it makes you feel like you've quenched a thirst only to gain another one. 'Moreish' claims the bottle, like so many ales do, except that this one every much is and you find yourself supping a second swig almost before you've had time to fully appreciate the aftertaste. Well, okay, I did. I found that I had to really force myself to wait and let the after come back through the back of the throat to fill the mouth once more, trying hard to resist the temptation to have another drink. That, I think, is the greatest strength of this ale. If it were a museum or attraction in the Peak District then it would be one you'd buy the yearly pass for because you know full well that you're coming back. You will take your children to the play sections and they will enjoy them and you will see the same views but they're the sort of views that stand repeat viewing and will subtly change with each time. So it is true of this ale.
In short, and in closing, this is a welcome brew to have when you fancy an ale. I can well see how it ends up topping people's lists and being a firm favourite. Were it not for the fact that I would have to order it via post I can imagine it being a staple. That said, it's not among the very best IPAs I have had the pleasure of having it is the sort of IPA that serves best as being the one that you return to of an evening and a weekend. It is, indeed, a staple and one that would take quite a lot of weight whilst providing you with the heavy lifting needed to keep an ale habit going. I am pleased to have been able to try it and look forward to seeing it again in the future!