Are You Tasting the Pith? - 24th October 04
Fans of this excellent Californian craft brewery won't be surprised by this review, although I wouldn't want to damn this beer with faint praise. It might be a bit misleading to say that this beer holds no surprises - if you've never tasted a Sierra Nevada beer, nothing can prepare you for the explosion of hop flavour and smooth caramelly maltiness that lurks within these beguilingly stubby 35cl bottles. However, if you have tasted any of their output (and their excellent Pale Ale is available almost everywhere these days, so you don't really have an excuse not to), this won't come as a huge surprise to you.
But let's not get carried away with endless blather, you want to know about the beer, right? Deep and dark, with ruby highlights, hints of caramelly malt and orange pith on the nose, and a big hoppy burst on the tongue, lots of orangey dryness and hints of Christmas spices, as you might expect from a beer with a snow-covered log cabin on the label. One for a beer-lover's Christmas stocking, for definite.
I always remember the first trip back South after I moved to Leeds - I was pleased to get back to the ever-excellent Wyndham Arms, then home of the nascent Hop BacK Brewery. I met up with a few mates, who roundly took the piss out of me for living in Tetleys country (the beer, not the tea). The thing is, Tetleys doesn't travel well - in fact I've never found a beer that travels quite so poorly.
I seldom bother with beer in cans these days - unreconstructed snobbery, perhaps, but then I gave up drinking instant coffee ages ago too, and my life is all the better for it. So when I found a bottle of Imperial in Asda (who, at the time of writing, have just rolled out a very impressive new beer range for Christmas), I thought I'd give it a bash.
And what to say? It was OK, a bit of floral orange hop character, a bit of malt body, but nothing exceptional. I'd actually go so far as to say that it was distinctive by not having any predominant flavours - it just tasted like a good, well-rounded bitter, possibly identifiable as being from Yorkshire at a push, but perhaps not.
This is what Tetleys is for - being a good, solid standby beer, that Loiners can privately enjoy, but the rest of the country doesn't see the point of. At least the word can now travel well in bottled form.
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