Are You Tasting the Pith? - 22nd August 04
It's funny how coincidence hunts us out - or is that just coincidence too? I held a beer tasting in Manchester a few months ago, and was asked what I thought of Robinson's beers. It was one of those semi-public, semi-professional moments where everyone is looking at you, and you think "Can I bluff this?". I almost never try to bluff it, and so was forced to admit that I had never heard of the brewery. "He's an imposter". "BURN HIM!" the Lancastrian crowd howled. Well, not quite, but it was only when one of them kindly explained that they produced the legendary Old Tom that the penny dropped.
Anyway, being a diligent sort, when I found a bottle of Double Hop, I took it as a sign that I should chill and drink the beer as soon as possible. And lordy, what a great idea that was, because this is an exceptionally good beer. Medium dark in colour, with coppery highlights, this has a fantastic pithy resinous aroma, obviously very hop driven, but with hints of caramel malt too. The mouthfeel is quite heavy, but despite this, it carries enough spicy hop punch to be balanced, and the finish has such length and weight as to be a masterclass in how beers should taste. A definite must-try for all ale aficionados.
Now that the word "Hoxton" has become synonymous with the asymmetric-fin-wearing, Duran Duran vs. The Clash "style" revival that is currently poisoning our fair country, to see it on a bottle of organic beer almost caused a mental meltdown. Beer? Hoxton? Organic? Hoxton? WHAT?!
Fortunately, my instincts and slavish dedication gave way, and a good job too, because this is a fine beer. It's not a typical ale in the formulaic balanced malt and hops way, but treads a rather path, reminding me of another BeerBoy favourite, Coopers Original Sparkling Ale. It has the same depth of flavour and mild astringency, couple with a slightly odd (but very enjoyable) savoury note mid-palate. It reminds me of onions, specifically the chopped cooked onions on top of an onion bagel, although I'm at a loss as to why (a) this isn't unpleasant (it's not) and (b) why this flavour should be there.
Still, the fact that Pitfield's excellent beers are now distributed widely is a cause for celebration. The shop is always worth a visit, and if you get a chance to sample their beers at The Duke of Cambridge in London's fair Islington, then I recommend you do so. And slap any wonky-mohicaned, legwarmer-wearing style monkeys you find for me.
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