Are You Tasting the Pith? - 31st October 04
OK, it's Halloween, but I can't be doing with all that themed nonsense. What did you expect, reviews of Rogue Dead Guy Ale and Dixie Blackened Voodoo lager? Oh, pur-lease.
So instead, some notes on a few IPA's that I've amassed in the last few weeks. Traditionally, India Pale Ale should be very well-hopped, and a bit stronger than a regular beer - about 6.5% by volume seems to be about right for my palate. The three candidates here are a little weaker - lets see how they fare.
First up, Marks and Spencers IPA is pretty typical of everything they do; tasteful, understated, not too flashy, guaranteed not to stand out in a crowd. Which is a shame, as I like my IPA to be brash, showy and attention grabbing. Nevertheless, it's perfectly drinkable, if a bit short on punch in the flavour department. M&S's IPA is fine for those people who think that Marston's or Greene King's IPA is a bit bland, but find (for example) Goose Island IPA to be unpalateably hoppy. Even I think that after about 2 or 3.
Next up, Okells IPA from the Isle of Man, weighing in at a worryingly weedy 4.5% abv, but pushing out plenty of citrussy hop aroma (all of 'em - grapefruit, lemon and orange). Pleasantly crisp on the palate, with lots of mouth-puckering dryness, this was a surprise hit, given that it isn't quite "authentic", but the light malt body coupled with the burst of hops and the dry finish did it for me.
Finally, Rolling Hitch IPA from the Darwin Brewery had a noticeably fuller body, with quite a lot of malt on the palate. I'd always thought that classic IPA should be hop driven, so this seemed a bit odd, but after a few swigs, I could see where they were coming from. Full-bodied, rounded, and pleasantly pithy.
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