No, this isn't an article about a trip to an English country pub, that's just a half-arsed wordplay based on these next three beers from Sly Fox and Goose Island.
When ordering my Hoptimum from Drinkstore, I click-chucked two cans from Sly Fox into my virtual basket on a whim, pretty much as an afterthought. As such, I wasn't expecting much from Phoenix Pale Ale when I gave it its day in the sun.
Very juicy fruit fronts the aroma, with lemon zest and candied citrus following behind. Things are elaborated upon on the palate, with pithy and malty sections meeting in the form of strong hop fruitiness and caramel sweetness, both of which become more potent over time.
This is a great pale ale with plenty of hop bang for your buck, but remaining well balanced and effortlessly drinkable all the while.
This is when the goose waddled in, in the form of Goose Island's Honker's Ale. This is described on their website as an English Bitter, though I wouldn't have recognised it from it's stingy, astringent grapefruit juice aroma, with sweet bubblegum and grain hiding underneath, alongside herbal and earthy notes. Strange, to be sure. I may perhaps have been reminded of England's best by the woody, nutty grain, red berry, black tea and slight notes of pepper on tasting, though mot much. The body's a bit too light and there isn't enough sweetness (or indeed bitterness) to inspire much of the same satisfaction as you'd expect from Britain's best session ales. A poor showing from Goose Island.
Back in Philadelphia we find our cunning fox, and this time he's brought the big 'un - 113 India Pale Ale. After admiring its lovely dark orange hue I was hit by how smelly the beer is. In a good way. Orange skins, pine resin and pungent, macerated citrus fruits make up a bloody good aroma, with the taste opening up with a proper, no-nonsense slap of bitterness right around the cheeks. This lingers all throughout, but even still there's a nice orange jelly sweetness that helps round things out in the middle.
It's delicious, satisfying and carries a good dose of hops, as it's name suggests (113 is the IBU level). Both Sly Fox beers get a strong recommendation, while the Goose Island gets a rather disappointed shake of the head. Remind me to pick up the IPA next time.