Are You Tasting the Pith? - 14th November 04
A brief report this week on a couple of nicely contrasting beers - Black Lightning from Hambleton Brewery, and White Boar from The Village Brewer. These brews are as opposite as it is possible for two bitters to be; Black Lightning is a heavy, roasty, fruity brew, White Boar a light, crisp flavoursome demilitre. My preferred application for these two beers was involved with food - the Boar was an excellent chef's beer while I cooked, the Lightning went with the food (heavy and meaty, should you be interested).
It is a fact that when you cook, you need a nice cool beer on the go. An ex-customer (he regretfully moved out of the area - hi Matt, should you be reading this) used to pop in to the shop for a couple of "cooking lagers", which I'm pretty sure that he never used to cook with (Coq Au Red Stripe, anyone?). No, they are to keep the chef refreshed and pleasantly lubricated, and this is the case with White Boar (3.8% abv). The spritzy aroma (notes of citrus, apples and a hint of florals) from this beautiful golden bitter keeps the senses focused, and the clean, zesty palate esures maximum refreshment. While pale and relatively modest in alcohol, White Boar packs a good wallop of flavour in each mouthful, and is dry and tingly enough to keep the interest going beyond one bottle. If only I'd bought more... ah, me.
Moving from the heat of the kitchen to the calm of the dining table (cross-legged on the floor like the neo bohos we are), and the Black Lightning is uncapped. At 6.5% abv, it was always going to be a bit of a blockbuster, but the way this beer is structured is really noticeable. The roasty aroma (nuts, bonfire toffee) tips the tongue off that this is going to be a big mouthful, and it is, especially after a pale appetiser. But it's not overpowering, it's a very well-balanced dark ale, packed full of autumnal flavours, but quite soft on the tongue, and at that strength, dangerously moreish.
The only downside to the whole thing is that I only bought one of each of these great beers from the excellent Drinks Well in the market place in Ripon. Founded by one of my ex-colleagues, this fantastic shop seems to be doing a great job of servicing the town and its immediate environs with all its drinks needs. One to check out if you're in the area.
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