Early on Saturday morning Mrs Velkyal and I piled ourselves and our little dog into the car and set off to Columbia in South Carolina. Yesterday we drove back to Charlottesville, minus the dog. Don't worry, we haven't sold our wee Honza to people with nefarious designs on world domination. We are going to France this week and can't take him with us, so he is on holiday at Mrs V's parents and I am left wondering what to do when I wake up at 5.30 in the morning.
Before we got to the in-laws' place, we swung by a Walmart to pick up some bits and pieces for dinner, including a six pack of something or other.
Highland Brewing from Asheville are fast becoming a go-to brewery in my world. I loved, and dranks lots of, their Clawhammer Oktoberfest lager when it was available. The Black Mocha Stout is as flavourful a stout as you could ask for. I was looking for something a bit easier on the palate and so I picked up a six pack of Gaelic Ale.
Once we got to the house I read the blurb on the bottle and my heart almost sank as I read that they used "Cascade and Willamette hops". The last thing I wanted was some classic C-hop citrus attack, still I had splashed the cash and pretty much had no choice, so I dived in. The beer pours a rich dark amber, bordering on deep red and with a thinnish off white head. It was in the nose that I got all confused, where was the grapefruit, the pine resin? The aroma was a complex layering of sweet malts, cocoa and rich earthy spiciness. Confused and yet encouraged. Goodness me, what a lovely tasting beer! More of the sweet malts, with a healthy wallop of biscuits, toast and caramel, all balanced by an unobtrusive but still noticeably firm hop bite. I polished off the 6 pack with the minimum of fuss and the maximum enjoyment.
I learnt something this weekend. It seems that Cascade in the hands of a brewery like Highland doesn't have to be the dominant flavour and aroma in a beer. As part of the whole it was a key element of a very nice beer and one that I will be buying on a regular basis in the future.