I step out of the woodwork today to remind you that this blog remains in existence as well as to celebrate two years of the Drunken Destrier. For the past couple of weeks, just as with the next few, I'm pretty busy with college work, so any drinking that's being done is usually restorative and the painful activities of photographing, note-taking and blogging of the beers have largely been relegated to obsolescence.
There were new beers though, and I just can't get out of beer nerd mode in such situations. These three are part of the Weird Beard range now stocked in Bradley's, and all are pretty fresh, bottled only in February.
The first I had was Mariana Trench, so named for being in between the American and English styles on the pale ale spectrum, and I had it with a very hot curry. Luckily, this beer is choc-a-bloc with hops. A beautiful orangey, citrus pith and candied peel nose is its first greeting, before going further down a grapefruit and tropical mango route. West Coast pine notes are just about suggested, as is a lick of lime marmalade. As you can imagine, the palate gets equally fantastic treatment, with the tropical grapefruit, mango, pineapple and bitter peel attack leading the charge. The hops are grounded by the pessential caramel malt backbone, providing just the right amount of balance while letting that sharp, pithy bitterness shine.
Try this with curry, you'll be surprised how well it cuts through the heat, and then you'll be seduced by its all-round loveliness.
Fade to Black is the black IPA of the range and as the aroma shows, it's very flipping hoppy. Citrus and pith are there just as in the previous beer, but there's a much sharper coppery highlight hanging over this one. It's bold and punchy to taste too, with those bitter tropical fruit notes supported by toffee and plenty roasty, bitter coffee. The length is great, and you'll be sucking the grapefruit peel notes off the sides of your mouth for the rest of the night.
Another great beer, but second fiddle to the Mariana Trench.
Finally we get to Hit the Lights, the second Metallica-referencing beer of the trio (that may have been a deciding factor), that describes itself as a 'mixed-up IPA'. This refers to the Anglo/Euro hops, English malt backbone and American yeast used in the making. For those who care, Target and Aurora are the hops used.
And they are gorgeous, if the aroma is anything to go by. Grapefruit and pineapple, candied lemon rind, soft and round notes of apricot; there's a lot less aggression to the hop profile here, and all the fruit expressed is bittersweet. This continues on tasting, with bitter orange pith and flesh opening up among softer mango, peach and apricot notes. A touch of golden syrup sweetness sticks the digestive biscuit malt backbone to your mouth, rounding out the impact of such potent hopping, but just as in the previous two beers, there's a long-lingering bitterness regardless.
Another instant classic.
These are three seriously good beers from a crowd who clearly know what they're doing, and who appear to revel in being trigger happy with the hop gun.
Go in, get.