Tuesday, September 24, 2013

British Brewer Doing American Hops

One of my habits when off on trips is to find a bottle shop in the hopes that I can pick up something unavailable in this part of Virginia. As such, whenever Mrs V and I head south to Greenville, to see her best friend and husband, I love to pop into Greenville Beer Exchange. This year's Labor Day long weekend was no exception and hidden amongst the beers from around the world were a few from a brewery I had heard much of but never seen on the shelves.

Oakham Ales, from Peterborough in England, do a range of mostly sub 5% ales which have started to find their way over the States - their importer is a company in North Carolina - and so when I saw Inferno and Citra on the shelf, well it didn't really take much thought now did it.

First up was Inferno, which according to the label uses 5 types of hop from the Yakima Valley and pours a wonderfully, almost proper pilsneresque, rich gold topped off with a white head that lingers for the duration. There was definitely the whole citrus thing you would expect from American hops, but I thought it more bitter orange that grapefruit, balanced with a very light toastiness, it almost made me think of breakfast. Tastewise lots of juicy malt sweetness, a touch of toffee and some pear flavours, all balanced out with a good citric tang of a hop bite. Certainly a very nicely balanced beer, which almost reminded me of Williams Brothers Scottish Session Ale.

It must be practically impossible to have a Twitter account, an interest in beer, and not to have heard of Oakham Citra. I will admit I was expecting an entirely different beast. It terms of the looks, it is pretty much the same as the Inferno, but the nose is a riot of funky weediness, with very definite tropical fruit aromas, in particular mango. Tastewise, straight off the bat I got lots of mango and passionfruit, followed by the comforting sweetness of malt, all leading to a lingering lemon finish. As I tweeted about while drinking this beer, where has it been all my life? So balanced, so moreish, so magnficent.

Thank goodness Oakham Ales are available in parts of the US now, and thank goodness Mrs V's friend is coming to see us before Christmas, I see some stocking up in my future...

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