Brasserie Van Ecke, Poperings Hommelbier - BE (£2.25, 7.5 per cent)
VAN Ecke's witbier is nothing like other traditional wits you might have drunk before; gone are the coriander and orange peel.
This beer was first brewed in 1981 to celebrate the proud hop-growing culture of Flanders.
Intensely hopped, aromatic, and brewed to a hearty 7.5 per cent, Hommelbier gets its name from its native region's crop, and the bees that help pollinate the farmers' crops.
Hommelbier pours a glowing tangerine, under a voluminous, creamy white head. The aroma is sweet candyfloss, cloves and bananas like many other wits, but there's an edge of papaya and marzipan, coupled with a fragrant woodiness that just isn't there in its competitors.
Medium to full bodied, with a sprightly carbonation, this beer demonstrates just how luscious noble hops can be: there are peaches and pecan nuts playing on a background of vanilla, with a creamy porridge backing from the wheat.
Strong fruity esters provide further interest, banana-bread and almonds round out the finish with a substantial hop bitterness and a slight alcohol warmth.
For those who are game, I'd strongly recommend drinking this wit with the sediment, or at least some of it, in the beer; don't worry, it won't upset your tummy, it's only yeast.
Adding these critters in to the mix intensifies the wheaty nuttiness of the beer, but also adds a satisfying salty bitterness that acts as an excellent foil for the sweeter, fruitier aspects of this brew.
Recommended by Michael Bates, Trembling Madness, 48 Stonegate, York
The biggest festival to happen in York is coming very close - make sure you're there this year as there's better food, better music and better beer! Have a look at our current selection that is going to be ready for you to enjoy and dispensed professionally. We can't wait!
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We've actually had the Oskar Blues cans in for longer than the Founders I reviewed, so I feel a bit mean not giving them any attention.
So here we are: Dale's Pale Ale is a 6.5 per cent hoppy American Pale credited with helping to establish craft beer in a can as 'a thing'. Not only are the cans smaller and more efficient for distribution, cutting down on greenhouse emissions as a result of their smaller size, but they also have several benefits regarding beer flavour.
Unlike bottles, there is no potential for light damage, especially perilous for a hop-forward ale like this one, but they are also much more resistant to oxygen ingress – where bottles can go stale over time, especially at room temperature, cans will not. Awesome stuff indeed.
Pouring brassy orange, the initial aroma is of tangerines, with rose overtones, and a more earthy pine and dried apple scent becoming apparent as it settles and opens up. The flavour is led by a punchy bergamot and lemon zest hit, backed up by a fragrant almond note and a very clean, refreshing malt bill.
Only a touch of caramel sweetness shows through this beer before being overcome by a well-balanced, nutty bitterness that throws out some grapefruit and orange zest before an ultra-refreshing clean finish.
A fantastic pale ale that hides its strength well; be cautious with this one, it might well lure you in before you know it.
Recommended by Michael Bates, Trembling Madness, 48 Stonegate, York, YO1 8AS
All Day IPA – Founders, US (4.7%, £2.25)
QUITE often when I’m in the mood for a hoppy beer, it can be tough to find to get the fix I’m after without accidentally drinking a beer in the 7 per cent plus bracket.
It’s tough, I know, but Founders brewery of Grand Rapids, Michigan, appear to have come up with the solution.
The concept behind this beer is to give the intensely aromatic, refreshing hoppiness of an American style India Pale Ale without necessarily clubbing the drinker, or their tastebuds, senseless.
In other words, it’s an American pale ale, but All Day IPA at a much more sessionable strength than most, making it ideal now that Spring has apparently sprung.
Pouring a brilliant copper, a tight white head unfolds with a delightful, heady aroma of passion fruit, lychee, and tangerine peel. Light bodied, crisp and clean, the malt only comes through as a touch of initial sweetness, and a brief flash of burnt toffee before fading beneath a blanket of juicy late-hopping.
A gentle peppery bitterness lays the groundwork for subtle spice and pine to play across, a sappy sharpness cuts through, and a little mango rounds out the finish. A crisp and moreish American pale ale, perfect for those long days in the sun we probably won’t get for another few months.
We’ve stocked up on cans and bottles though, just in case, and if you make the pilgrimage we’ve got a few kegs too so you can enjoy this classic pale ale on draught too.
Recommended by Michael Bates, Trembling Madness, 48 Stonegate, York, YO1
Great Heck , Amish Mash (£2.25, 4.7 per cent)
Great Heck Brewery are coming along in leaps and bounds at the minute – a push into bottled beers, along with a snazzy new look, and a few new recipes have seen Denzil Vallance’s outfit really making some waves in the local and national beer scenes.
The Yakima IPA, especially, has been a favourite on cask here at the Trembling Madness, but, in bottles, their lighter sessionable Citra and Amish Mash have really caught my eye.
Amish Mash, pun clearly intended, is not brewed to a traditionally Amish recipe, rather it’s a bit of a mish-mash between styles. It could broadly be called a hopfenweiße or similar, only a lot lighter in body; it’s a wheat beer, liberally hopped with American and new-world cultivars.
The result is that this pale gold beer pours with a rich fluffy head, bursting with a bone-dry grapefruit and pine-needle aroma.
The body isn’t as heavy as some wheat beers can be, nor is it as heavily carbonated, rather the mouth feel is pitched just right, making this easily drinkable.
Toasted sunflower seeds and tangerine peel play off against a dry, earthy bitterness, with a touch of fennel seed and coriander in the finish. The malt really is the backing dancer here; more a vehicle for the hops, but like their Citra, Great Heck’s wheaty pale ale is extremely light and refreshing.
Everything told, it’s a fantastic, crisp ale at the stronger end of session ABV, and it’s fantastic.
Recommended by Michael Bates, Trembling Madness, 48 Stonegate, York
Once again The House of Trembling Madness has been shortlisted in the VisitYork Tourism Award category of York Pub of the Year 2014.
This year we are making numerous changes to improve the business and be the best it has ever been. You may not have even noticed but we have already put in a new staircase, new chandelier, new kitchen equipment, brand new spirit showroom and are currently revamping all flooring throughout the building. Our range of beers have improved and we will be giving a greater variety of draught throughout the year. All are pies are have been improved using a larger meat content and better ingredients. Our food menu will continually change throughout the year, we have new sausage making equipment and are currently developing new flavours and cured meats. A lot of retail store products will also be available to buy online before the Summer. We hope you like the changes we make, please give us some feedback and ideas.
Also included in the list of 60 finalists for the VisitYork Tourism Awards are our luxury apartments - The Old Gallery & Chamber nominated for self-catering accommodation of the year. Once again we are making a great deal of changes to improve the apartments. They are already the 2 most kitted out apartments in York, we are still theming them even more. The retro apartment has a continual flow of iconic memorabilia appearing and the haunted chambers collection of the bizarre and taxidermy is growing. Keep an eye on the webpage for updates and new photos.
The awards ceremony will be held May 8th so fingers crossed to see whether can gain another coveted tourism award to add to our collection.
See the press article here
Brasserie Boon (Belgium) Geuze a la Ancienne - (£4.30, 7%)
LAMBIC isn't everybody's cup of tea, I know, but I often wonder whether this is because most people haven't given geuze a proper chance yet, reacting instantly, and negatively, to its sharpness and totally alien flavour structure when compared to most other styles of brewing.
Brewed to a traditional recipe, fermented only by the wild yeasts that find their way naturally into the wort, and then aged in oak casks for a number of years, lambic-flavour profiles align more with traditional ciders than with English bitters.
Each batch, each barrel, will taste different to every other, and it is the brewer's job to effectively blend each batch to create a consistent flavour profile.
Boon's Geuze a la Ancienne uses primarily mild, yet full-flavoured, 18-month-old lambic to create an extremely drinkable yet complex drink from an unpredictable art.
Pouring a lightly hazed copper with a dense, white head, the immediate rush of aroma from the bottle is of orange rinds and white wine, with a touch of damp hay.
The flavour is complex, yet exceedingly smooth – zesty lemon sherbert, strawberries and cream, and a rush of peaches explode across the palate before a tempered, tart finish scatters roasted lemons and dry cider around the tongue.
A beautiful beer born of an ageless, and unique, process – if this doesn’t win people over to straight lambics, I don’t know what will.
Recommended by Michael Bates, Trembling Madness, 48 Stonegate, York
Restaurant review: House Of The Trembling Madness
by Ron Godfrey on March 22, 2014
Will RG get the DTs at TM? Photograph: RIchard McDougall
Ron Godfrey heads off on a mad eating escapade
Anti-hunt ranters be warned: The House of The Trembling Madness is probably not for you.
You’ll find it hard to quaff and scoff in the glassy-eyed glare of so many animal heads mounted on one wall upstairs in a tiny, but breathtakingly moody medieval hall in Stonegate, York.
Here, in that ship-beamed ale house, part of the first Norman home to be built in York in 1180 AD, can be seen the ghoulish parade of taxidermy.
There’s a viciously-tusked wild boar, a fox, a goat, deer, ducks (various), a tiny mole and even a spotted wildcat, all hunters’ trophies down the centuries crowded high into the rafters.
Occasionally, and for seemingly no reason at all, are displayed in alcoves a bull fiddle, a guitar and ethnic tom-toms among other fantastical artefacts.
Fangs for the memories: one of the Trembling Madness regulars
The centrepiece, above the bar, right near the antlers of a steer, is a lush-maned lion’s head, carrying in its open jaws the trophy for the Best Pub Award presented at the Welcome To Yorkshire ceremony last November.
And Mrs G and I on our clandestine visit also noted the presence on one ledge of a large human skull grinning horribly. Probably, we surmised, a customer who was still thumb-twiddling for waiter service?
My mistake because yes, that is what this tiny place is – a pub café and not a restaurant, so you order at the bar, then they’ll serve it. No bookings.
You take pot luck and, if necessary wait on a long bench or at the bar for a table.
Meanwhile, the view of the spot-lit Minster through a focal sash window demonstrates the House’s antiquity without, while the ancient furniture, including barrel seats, pew benches and rough wooden tables, shimmering with candlelight, shout of the history within.
Trophy room: inside the Trembling Madness
To get there you go by way of a staircase leading from a magically colourful ground floor off-licence consisting of a trove of off-beat ales, ciders and wines, a connoisseur’s paradise.
Its ponytailed owner is entrepreneur Ian Loftus, who, I understand, runs the nearby Evil Eye bar and restaurant in Stonegate, is also landlord of luxury (but excitingly haunted) holiday apartments at the back of the house and operates a Madness mobile bar with catering and entertainment.
He seized his opportunity to expand upstairs four years ago, following the closure there of the Beams Tearooms ¬– and his quirky House of the Trembling Madness came into being.
It’s not such a crazy title: Trembling Madness was an ancient way of describing delirium tremens, which is not only the heavy drinkers’ palsy but also the moniker of a popular Belgian beer.
Good marketing ploy, eh? Crazy like a stuffed fox.
Given that the premises has no fully equipped kitchen, we weren’t expecting much but its menu is inventive and ingenious as well as diverse – and earns a five star rating from hygiene standards.
Now I’d love to stand with the angled raised elbow of the ale aficionado to tell you of the wonders of one among the 600 real ale and keg beers to choose from let alone the exotic mango ciders etc, but my role as a diabetic driver meant that I can only make you envious about my chosen drink – a Diet Coke.
Mrs G ordered a large “smooth and tasty” Merlot.
We ignored the chalk-on-slate special – a beef curry. It may have been priced well at £5, but no rice was offered only bread.
So we delved into the prospects of hearty offerings suggested in the “larger dishes” menu.
I was tempted by an array of “Madness burgers”, including, at £6.50, an award-winning local steak-filled “black and pepper burger” with relish and side salad.
I was also lured by the prospect of a £9 Madness Fish Platter.
This consisted of salmon paté with Nordic gravlax – or smoked salmon cured in salt and dill – with giant capers and olives, a salad and mustard lemon and dill sauce.
But I finally plumped for a large £9 steak and ale pie, mash and mushy peas, brought to me steaming and gleaming with a gravy thick enough to stand a spoon in.
Mr G’s choice: steak and ale pie
Mrs G’s choice: the Madness platter
The pie, one of Richardson of Woodthorpe’s award winning creations, had a rustically crimped pastry with leaf design sculpted into it and burgeoned with salty chunks of tender meat. Yum.
Mrs G’s choice – a Madness platter – was a foregone conclusion, given that she revels in anything savoury.
It consisted of a long wooden platter burgeoning with Yorkshire-sourced smoked chicken and duck slices, smoked cheeses, a portion of pork pie with a black pudding lid, served with Wold Top Ale plum chutney, pickles, salad and via vecchia bread.
“Beautifully presented and each of the items totally different yet complementary in flavour,” she decreed, munching away and totally undaunted by her audience of decapitated animals.
It didn’t bother me, either, particularly as the silently roaring lion – dubbed Cornelius by one staff member – had an affinity with me. We were both born in Africa. Madness, isn’t it?
The House Of The Trembling Madness is open from Monday to Saturday from 10am until midnight and opens a little later at 11am on a Sunday, with food served throughout those hours.
The little place is in massive demand, particularly on weekends, by students and food and drink buffs, so choose your timing carefully, unless you are prepared to bide your time for a table and soak up both the unusual ales and the ancient mood…
Merlot and Diet Coke £6.25
Madness Platter £9
Steak and ale pie £9
Food: Wholesome, local, imaginative and well-presented ★★★★
Service: Called to the bar but quickly delivered ★★★
Ambience: Tremulously wonderful ★★★★★
Value: You can eat well relatively cheaply ★★★★
Overall rating: ★★★★
House of The Trembling Madness | 48 Stonegate, York YO1 8AS | 01904 640009 |email@example.com | tremblingmadness.co.uk
Black Isle (Inverness), Porter – 4.6%, £3.60
Established in 1998, the Black Isle brewery has a wide portfolio of beers, ranging from traditional scotch ales and barley wines, through to crisp, contemporary blondes and ruby ales, all with purely organic malts and hops.
It comes at a cost (organic malt is double the price of the normal variety, and organic hops are only available in limited varieties at eye-watering prices), but compared to other non-Organic UK brewers, they remain very competitively priced.
Their brewing versatility and the appeal of a natural product, untainted by pesticides or chemicals has meant that they’ve gone from strength to strength, with demand for their beer as far away as Russia, America, and, importantly for our purposes, in North Yorkshire.
Black Isle’s porter pours a clear chestnut, flaring brilliant amber when Acaught by the light, with a tightly packed latte head. The aroma is light and peppery, with treacle, coffee, and rum-soaked raisins.
Light-bodied, but very smooth, the initial flavour is of vanilla fudge, before transforming into a creamy coffee and milk chocolate.
All of this is held together by a jammy vein of cherry liqueur, before it all subsides in the finish, where a pleasing aroma of cherrystones and almonds comes to the fore and fills the mouth.
Not the chocolate-y sweet, and sometimes cloying porter that you might well know already, but a much lighter, sophisticated approach that is, dare I say it, delicious and refreshing.
• Recommended by Michael Bates, Trembling Madness, 48 Stonegate, York, YO1 8AS @tremblingmad
Arbor, Blue Sky Drinking – 4.4 %, £2.99
ARBOR Ales have been steadily making a name for themselves, as well as operating the much-loved Three Tuns in their native Bristol, for a good while now.
Not satisfied with brewing a core range of beers, they’ve often been a hotbed of invention; their array of single-hop ales for one, and the ever entertaining, and often delicious, Freestyle Friday range of beers, where a new recipe or idea is tried out in the brewhouse each Friday.
This week’s beer, however, is one of their core range; a bitter brewed exclusively with British malts and hops.
Nothing imported, no exotic hop varieties or ingredients.
Pouring a deep blood-orange red, with copper highlights, it very much looks the part. The nose is a dusty, dry affair with cocoa, straw, and chestnuts wafting invitingly from the glass. As it is drunk, the first impression is a surge of nutty, biscuit malt flavours that fill the mouth before fading to a much lighter, clean finish; this is not a buttery, cloying bitter, but something much more refined.
The finish is grassy, with a real punch of orange pith to it that works in tandem with the nutty malt to mount a substantial bitter parting shot. Light bodied and peppery, Blue Sky Drinking is an excellent session bitter, and a good point of entry for the uninitiated – for those already hooked on the good stuff, keep an eye on their Freestyle Friday and other brews.
Recommended by Michael Bates, Trembling Madness, 48 Stonegate, York Twitter: @tremblingmad
Siren Craft Brew Competition
Siren Crafts collaboration with Omnipollo in June last year was a rip roaring success. Rik Lindqvist was the winner of the Swedish homebrew competition, and Nacken was the beer from that partnership.
The gauntlet was thrown down to the UK homebrewing community to see what they could do, and the response was fantastic. A good range of styles were sent from pale ales to hoppy IPA’s, Brett IPA’s, Imperial Stouts and a few saisons.
The judges at Siren went through the entries scored them and then sent the top 6 to Sweden for Henok & Karl to judge.
The winner was our beer guru Michael Bates with a well crafted Saison. The judges felt that it had a great aroma and was a beautiful beer.
Siren Craft are in the process of booking in a brewing schedule and will work with Michael & Omnipollo in Sweden to put together the ideas of what they will brew, so keep your eyes out for updates.
Michael has been working at Trembling Madness for some time and has become our leading expert on everything beer, follow his Beer of the Week Column in the York Press or read his reviews on our blog here. With his production of superb original homebrews the future is looking very bright, I'm sure we will all be enjoying Michael's beers in the not to distant future.
Hardknott (Cumbria), Azimuth 5.8 per cent/ £2.25
IN 2005, Hardknott head brewer Dave Bailey transformed the Woolpack Inn into a brewpub.
When he realised his beer was both popular and delicious, he decided to hang up the bar towel and take up the malt shovel full time.
This is, of course, an excellent thing because in collaboration with his partner in crime Ann, Hardknott has become quite popular around the country, and even exports some beer these days, releasing a steady stream of flavourful, imaginative brews in a wide variety of styles.
Azimuth, its first ‘proper’ IPA (although it also regularly brews a red IPA, Infra Red, and a Belgian variant called Queboid) is not a ridiculous hop bomb. We’ll get that out of the way here; if you’re after a roundhouse kick of aroma, or a blitzkrieg of bitterness, it just isn’t here, but you shouldn’t pass Azimuth over because of this.
Pouring a golden copper with a loose, titanium white head, a refreshing, delicate aroma of crisp russet apples and quinces finishes with a nudge of apricots and nectarines. Light and dry on the palate, with an initial burst of pear sweetness, a woody, drying bitterness soon spreads across the tongue. There’s a touch of lemongrass and black pepper here too, playing across the blanket of pine laid down in the finish. It’s not an endurance test, it’s a delicate, complex, and ultimately drinkable take on a style that many brewers have tried, and failed, to achieve.
Recommended by Michael Bates, Trembling Madness, 48 Stonegate, York
Emelisse (NL), Herfstbok: 6.5 per cent, £3.25
EMELISSE aren’t quite as new to our store as some, in fact we’ve sold their range since late 2012.
However, in that time their popularity has risen and the quality of their beers has only improved.
They regularly release a range of contemporary and traditional Continental styles, including Belgian blondes, saisons, and dubbels, and they’re jointly responsible for the sensational Earl Grey IPA in collaboration with Marble brewery, so you’d be foolish to disregard this Dutch outfit.
The bok, however, is a style very much in the Dutch psyche; not only do most breweries (yes, even the big boys like Amstel and Grolsch) produce at least one seasonal bok, but the style is so widely appreciated that an annual festival is held in Amsterdam dedicated to showcasing bokbiers from across the nation.
Herftsbok is a strong, nutty lager, pouring a stunning, bright mahogany with a steady tan head. It looks beautiful in the glass and releases a nutty, wheat-bran aroma with walnut and raisin notes that is divine.
Full bodied, with a bright, spritzy carbonation, the initial taste is a sweet bonfire toffee hit that gradually subsides to reveal coffee, all-bran, dried bananas and treacle before an even, neutral bitterness cleanses the palate. A substantial and hearty lager, ideal for blustery days and cold, dark evenings.
• Recommended by Michael Bates, Trembling Madness, 48 Stonegate, York, YO1 8AS
Dark Star, Six Hop - 6.5%, £3.75
Dark Star, once a small brewery based at the fantastic Evening Star pub near Brighton rail station, have always been the ‘Thornbridge of the South’ in our books. They have established themselves with a range of well-crafted traditional ales and also moved toward keg and centrifuged/filtered bottle products.
This does mean, of course, that a lot of their beer is no longer real ale by CAMRA’s definition, for better or worse, but they are still pretty darn good.
Six Hop is ordinarily a seasonal release in cask, but it’s now part of the brewery’s line of bottled beers – six additions of six hop varieties in a 6.5% India Pale Ale.
Pouring a brilliantly clear burnt copper – it’s pretty obvious this has been filtered – however it also immediately apparent that the hop aroma has not been diminished by this process.
An overwhelming cascade of dried apricots is dusted with pine needles and coconut, with only a nudge of caramel maltiness initially apparent.
The flavour is led by a tangerine and apricot jam, with a thick coating of marzipan. As this hoppy overture begins to fade a treacle toffee maltiness comes through drying out into a resinous pine bitterness.
Despite being inspired by American India Pale Ales the bitterness is soft, tempered by the solid malt backbone. This makes Six Hop rich and hoppy, while remaining perfectly balanced.
As recommended by The House of Trembling Madness, York
Gjulia Sud, Italy - 8.0%, £5.55
If you were asked to name a nice beer from Italy that isn’t some form of lager, most people would probably be rather stumped.
The good news is, however, that of late there have been quite a few nice breweries setting up shop or expanding their market all over the world of late, and Italy is no exception: Brewfist have been exporting their craft beers for a while now, as have Toccalmatto, and let’s not forget Birra del Borgo.
More recently, however, we have managed to procure some of Gjulia’s craft ales, named for the points of the compass; Sud is the brewery’s eight per cent stout, so naturally I started there.
Sud pours a chocolate brown with garnet highlights, there’s no head to speak of but there’s a wonderful marshmallow-chocolate aroma that puts me in the mood for a Tunnock’s teacake.
As it opens up a bit more, you get edges of banoffee pie, coupled with an accent of sharp raspberry sweetness.
The first thing to strike me is that it’s very light-bodied for a stout; this, coupled with the sweet fudge, pecan pie flavour, tinged with a suggestion of smoke, liquorice, and nutmeg in the finish, put me much more in mind of a Belgian dubbel.
This would work wonderfully for those who enjoy their Belgian beers, though if you’re a fan of ultra-heavy stouts I’d look elsewhere.
If we ignore the brewery’s classification of this beer it’s certainly good in its own right.
Reviewed by House of Trembling Madness, Stonegate
Weird Beard, Something Something Dark Side, London (9%, £3.90)
So, Weird Beard’s an odd name for a brewery, and Something Something Dark Side is an odd name for a beer. But then, Weird Beard have a penchant for making weird beer, and they have beards.
Their beer isn’t Brewdog weird – there’s no rum-soaked otters’-nose barrel-aged IPAs here. The experimentation comes about more in just making beer that’s different.
Something Something Dark Side is not a black IPA – it’s too full bodied. Nor is it an imperial stout – it’s far too hoppy and aromatic for that. It’s just... somewhere in-between. It’s also lovely.
It pours black, very, very black indeed, with a thick mocha head. A miasma of raw hop cones, grapefruit, and mint-chocolate creeps out of the glass, gradually mellowing into a more level pine nose.
One taste and things get even more complex – orange and apricots give way to marjoram and a rich, almost-savoury gravy and fresh mint mid-section, before black pepper, dried ginger, and a substantial (though not too abrasive) bitterness closes proceedings.
Something Something Dark Side is rich, unctuous, and doesn’t sit comfortably within any one style, and it’s this sort of delightfully different beer that makes Weird Beard’s beer so enjoyable, even if it might not please everyone.
For those who don’t want to drink something this heavy, dark, and strong, their Camden Beard is also fantastic; a wonderfully refreshing hopfenweisse with an expansive aromatic quality that’s impossible to fault. Great stuff indeed.
Review by our head beer guru Michael Bates
Buxton Brewery Gold - 5.2%, £2.25
Buxton Brewery has been going from strength to strength of late, its success partly evinced by a much-needed rebranding and the installation of a new brewkit.
It has been putting out a range of flavourful, expertly crafted ales for a good while now.
Exciting collaborative and limited edition beers made with specialist techniques (as in the Tsar Bomba and Sky Mountain Sour ales) have kept things exciting in that time, but recently an old favourite returned to the fold: Buxton Gold has resurfaced, always a disastrously drinkable beer, and one that I’m more than happy to see on the shelf once again.
Pouring golden orange, with a delicate white head, the aroma is reminiscent of fresh grapes, juicy plums, and fragrant straw.
Binding it all together is an overarching sharp citrus note suggesting the beer that follows is going to be aromatic and refreshing, and certainly hop-forward like much of Buxton’s portfolio.
The flavour takes a slightly different turn however; there is throughout a gentle hop aroma that fills the mouth with the first sip, but this soon subsides, allowing a rich caramel maltiness to develop.
A light bitterness provides a considered counterpoint to the sweet finish, which ensures that every draught taken is satisfying yet refreshing.
A versatile beer indeed, that drinks dangerously like a session ale without skimping on the good stuff.
As recommended by Michael Bates of Trembling Madness, Stonegate, York
Duvel Moortgat, Tripel Hop 2013 - 9.5%, £3.90
Duvel Moortgat have, perhaps wisely, been keeping an eye on the rise of American craft beer’s influence throughout the beer world.
This is necessary to ensure that their flagship brand remains vital and interesting for those beer-geeks who like to seek out every last permutation and special edition of a beer (I confess to sometimes being guilty of that).
This year’s vintage acts as a showcase for the lemongrass love-or-loathe hop Sorachi Ace in the context of a Belgian ale – it might well convert a few people, who knows?
Duvel Tripel Hop pours a delightful, hazy lemon-yellow with a voluminous white head oozing out of the glass. The aroma has a distinctive mango/catty savour, like many highly-hopped American IPAs, but without the abrasive pine or lemony sharpness that can be a little much at times. The pepper and spice lent by Duvel’s yeast and noble hop content add a delicate contrast and provide some welcome complexity.
The body is light with a zesty carbonation, complemented wonderfully by the lemon and honey combination of malted barley and Sorachi Ace’s signature flavour.
A touch of nutmeg and clove from the yeast adds creaminess, preventing Tripel Hop running bone-dry on the palate. Instead it remains refreshing, with a lovely mango-sorbet finish punctuated by a tingle of cut grass and black pepper in the finish.
Not the most direct showcase for Sorachi Ace, but proof positive of its versatility and its delicacy when handled with care – even Sorachi-haters will find it hard to find fault here.
By Michael Bates, Trembling Madness in Stonegate, York
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