After their recent poor show with a raspberry beer, I was very glad to find Meantime's Pale Ale a return to form. I like this brewery and knew I wouldn't stay angry with them for long. At 4.7% this is a medium-strength ale, though is supplied in a 33cl bottle to save customers from the temptation of overindulgence. How thoughtful. It pours fizzily, a surprisingly non-pale dark rich amber, with just a light dusting of suspended sediment. Not much on the nose, but the flavour is far from understated. We get those marvellous mandarin-and-sherbet notes that are the hallmark of great hoppy pale ales, and which won Franciscan Well's Purgatory ICB Beer of the Year. They say there's East Kent Goldings in here, but they've definitely put Cascade in the driving seat. My only criticism is the texture: there's just too much fizz and it interrupts the palate's enjoyment of the complex malt-hops interplay. With a little less conditioning this could be a champion. Still, highly enjoyable and recommended.
It made me even more eager to get at Meantime's India Pale Ale: bigger bottle, higher strength and allegedly hopped nine ways from Sunday. The cork eases out with more of a puff than a pop. No overwhelming hops funk comes from the neck of the bottle. The pour is a lurid orange, topped with a big fizzy head that dissipates quickly. Even in my wide-bottomed glass I'm finding it hard to drum up an aroma. A vague fruitiness, but not much else. The main thing I can taste is the alcohol: heavy and sticky-sweet. But there's more underneath it. The Fuggles and East Kent Goldings impart a dry back-of-the-throat sort of bitterness that works better in lighter, more sessionable beers, but gets squashed by the booziness in this 7.5%er. There's a slight orangey-citric fruit tone to it as well, but nothing like the moreish big citrus of American IPAs, a flavour which may have spoiled me for most British and British-style IPAs: I end up thinking fond thoughts of Goose Island half-way through. All-in-all, I'm finding this beer tough going.
More of the green stuff is on the horizon for tomorrow evening when I'll be at the launch of the Porterhouse's new summer ale: Hop Head. Pilgrim, Nugget, Cascade and Hallertau in this one, and just a pinch of black malt. Doesn't sound like much could go wrong in that, does it?