Are You Tasting the Pith? - 30th January 05
Damn, I love my job. I don't have to get up early, I meet interesting people, I get to talk about booze all the time, and at the moment I seem to have a fairly regular stream of FREE BEER coming my way. When people tell me that I have the best job in the world, I agree with them, and note that if it weren't for the hours, the money and the incessant back-breaking slog of moving beer around all day every day (how do you think the shelves get refilled - shelf pixies?), it would indeed be perfect.
But enough of that - what about the beer? This week, three gems from the Wentworth Brewery. Wentworth Pale Ale (WPA, or "woppa", 4% abv) is one of those classic pale golden ales, not as refined as, say, Hop Back Summer Lightning, but a great beer nonetheless. It's got a great burst of citrus and slightly green-stalky flavour on the palate, hints of spice and then a long, dry hoppy finish. Served at cool room temperature, this is wonderful - zingy, dry, moreish - although this is a beer that would be lost if served too cold. All the pleasure is in the transient aromatics; very delicate, but great to glug back and repeatedly excite the palate with.
Taking its name from the brewery's logo, Rampant Gryphon (6.2% abv) is an altogether beefier kettle of bones. Having recently been a judge in the International Beer Competition 2005, and blind tasted a fair bit of beer, I have to say that if this were entered, it could easily have been a contender in the strong ale category. The heady fruity malt aroma is quite concentrated, majoring on the pale stone fruit theme (apricot, peach, nectarine) with a bit of orange and caramel sweetness thrown in (although lets say it one more time, you can't actually smell sweet, but it smells as though it will be sweet when you taste it). And whaddayaknow, it is slightly sweet when I finally sluice it across the tongue, along with a wonderful punchy bitterness and a soft hint of estery alcohol in the finish. Dangerously moreish for such a strong beer.
Finally, drinking in a light-to-dark manner rather than weak to strong, Wentworth Oatmeal Stout (4.8% abv) is a fine way to round off the session. It's everything a stout should be, without offering any flashy extras. Deep, dark and roasty, with a soft, silky edge to it, imparted by the use of oats as a grain in the mash. If not outstanding, then definitely a very good example of the style.
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