When we realised it was The Sparrow's birthday, the ensuing visit was inevitable. Not only to show support and help celebrate their success, but also because they were marking the occasion with two new keg lines and some very special beers indeed.
39: Endless, Redwillow, 3.8%
Thought I would start the evening off with a not too strong pale ale. So far, the pale ales that I've sampled since beginning this blog have, at best, fallen into the category of "nice". None of them have been outstanding. Rather, beers that would work well as a session ale, or an accompaniment to food. Endless, however, broke the mould. Lots of hoppy fruity aromas, hints of peach and papaya (just my kind of thing), a touch of bitter, but not too much. A lovely lovely beer, and made even more so by my surprise that a beer with less strength and bitterness could make such an impact. For me, it has seriously raised the bar on pale ales.
40: Hell's Lager, Camden Town, 4.6%
A very crisp and refreshing lager. A good lager. Struggled to pick out flavours in this, but this is probably due to the style. Definitely would be good on a hot summer day.
41: Two Captains, Nøgne Ø, 8.5%
A double IPA, a type of beer I seem to be developing a bit of a penchant for. Not brash and in your face, but still packed with floral fruity flavours.
42: Imperial India Pale Ale, Struise/ Mikkeller Elliot Brew, 9.0%
Very different IPA, biscuity, darker malt. Again, fruit smells and flavours, but more berries, darker fruits. The side of the bottle had a lot of gumpf, in what presumably is Flemish. After some feeble attempts using google's interpreter, and some stab in the dark guessing, we concluded that as the brewers developed this beer, they increased the IBU (bitterness) levels from 130 to 216. This seemed to make sense. It was very bitter, appropriately so, the flavours stood up well to it. The bitterness slowly worked in waves down your tongue, starting at the tip and spreading down into your throat. Intense and interesting.
43: Nelson Sauvin Single Hop IPA, Mikkeller, 6.9%
Another single hop IPA. Definitely think IPAs are becoming a favourite, but especially the single hop varieties. IPAs like Elliot Brew's offering have so many flavours and sensations going on when you drink them, and whilst this is wonderful, my preference for now is the more manageable chunks of single hops, easier to get your head around. And this one was lovely, all cherry and peach. A new hop for me I think.
44: Citra Single Hop IPA, Mikkeller, 6.9%
Following a trip to Hawkshead Brewery last week, and discovering that Windermere Pale is made with Citra hops, and having the opportunity to smell some raw (if raw is the word...) Citra, seeing Citra Single Hop IPA on the bottle menu was a no brainer. It is bizarre how familiar it was, despite never having had this beer before. I'm not saying it didn't have unique qualities, I'm sure that drinking it directly next to Windermere Pale or other beers containing Citra would have highlighted how different brewers use the same ingredient to different effects. One particular type of hop adding such a specific flavour, was very interesting. Again, a lovely IPA
Struggled to pick my favourite today, as tried such a variety of beers and all of them were a bit special. I missed out on Dunnock, one of two collaboration beers that The Sparrow brewed with Saltaire Brewery, although Mr T had some and recommended it. In the end, I have settled with the first. Endless, from Red Willow. Having such a distinctive beer, bursting with flavour, but suitable for a session and with a lower abv.... Surprised me and made me think twice about pale ales.
Thanks Sparrow for another lovely evening, and Happy Birthday! Here's to another year!