Sunday, 23 July 2017


I shall be honest, I got this in as I misread the label and thought it was the amazing Subluminal stout, but I'm not complaining. Buxton make a fantastic range and they've yet to put a foot wrong for me, so I was actually looking forward to this. A sort of birthday present and it's been sat in my fridge for what feels like an incredibly long time. However, the official marking period is now over, and I've broken up from work, time to surface with style!

Hot and humid weather, dark and grey outside, brooding and ready to rain. It is obviously the time to break out the big summer ale guns with this IPA and a sour touch. The last sour I had, Waimea Sour, in London did a great job with the humidity, so I have high hopes for this, Buxton Brewery's Superluminal sour IPA. Would you like to know more?

Good opening, calm and intriguing after so long chilling - no huge activity - and plenty of aroma. Tropical and fruity, making my mouth water, but also something fresh and sun-kissed about it, engendering the kind of feeling one gets when one is thirsty on a warm summer's day and sees something like melon on offer and already cut up. It's a good smell and it rises on the pour with plenty of bubbles but not much in the way of head. Crystal sparking clarity fills the glass, bronzed with golden highlights, burnished rather than polished, glinting in the light with the sort of rim of head that reminds you this is proper ale and the sparkle that persistently tells you this is a sour brew and not your normal offering.

Willow opined that it was likely to be the sort of IPA that left a sour hit of grapefruit, of the sort that she is not a fan (I am) being Clwb Tropicana (click this) or Lupuloid (and this one), and then handed the glass back before demanding a taste. She screwed her face up exactly as I thought she would, proving that this is a proper sour, but with the admission that grapefruit was not the dominant flavour. It wasn't. This explodes on the tongue, taking that aroma and balling it up before punching it through your tastebuds at supersonic speed. It roils and billows on the roof of the mouth, the bubbles carrying a hint of the yeast amidst the clearing sour taste that blows through the humid discomfort of the evening and then straight down into the valley of citrus fruit flavours. Softer aspects are there too, carried by the breeze from the sea almost, swirling about that highly sour finish like spectres of peaches and mangoes tied to this realm by unfinished business. No need for any kind of ghost-busting at this taste though, they are all too corporeal. Consider, if you will, the kind of desert island common in 1980s adverts with a bar and some kind of jetty off which people plunge into the blue waters beneath a shining sun - this is the taste landscape set by this ale.

As the whole tropically sour brew chases to the back of the mouth there is a moment to rest, a brief thought of something less able to slake the thirst on such a day, like a bitter or a decent pint of amber ale. Memories of the early spring and the coming autumn. Then it plunges into the depths of the sour aftertaste, lemon juice and limes with a brief impression of vinegar on chips, the positive kind of taste. Then it is gone. Leaving the marks of a good sour ale and the fruity overtones of a well-made IPA making great use of the hops employed. Possible West Coast hops in this one but I'm not good enough to place any particular flavours. And the sour keeps the flavours fresh and vibrant even after the mouthful has gone. A thin-ish brew that works well after a meal and with the oppressive close-ness that precedes a summer storm. At 7% ABV this wears its strength well, the alcohol never becomes over-powering but is still present at the party like the comforting form of a hulking bouncer - reassuringly powerful but restrained and polite.

In case it isn't obvious, I rather like this brew and find it well worth what I paid for it. It is the sort of ale that would do well at a barbeque but, having in indoors, I found that it brings with it its own understanding and impressions of the summer, making it the sort of ale that could be had anywhere. That said, I rather like the fact that I had cooled it and feel that it would have lacked a certain something had I tried to take it into the world or left it standing anywhere for any length of time. When I took a chiller thing with me on the train the ales were passable but not this chilled and that would have impaired this one.

Enjoy this best in the calm before the thunderstorm, huge anvil clouds tower above, wrapped in a shroud of grey and threatening stratus and there is the smell of big rain on the air. Squint upwards to the bright sky, frown at the pressing nature of the atmosphere, embrace the sweat. Crack this open, undo a few buttons on the shirt and then sit back and take it slowly. Gasp with appreciation after each mouthful and don't talk, just smile and share a moment with friends and family alike. Close your eyes if you must, but don't try and watch anything or read a book, you will be rewarded for using all of your attention on the brew!

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