Peter Ranscombe runs the rule over the latest releases from beer website Flavourly.
DESPITE this Arctic blast over the past couple of weeks, I’m informed reliably that spring is here.
As the seasons turn, so too do the styles of beer for which we reach.
The porters and stouts of autumn and winter give way to the pale ales and lagers of spring and summer.
The latest releases from Edinburgh-based online beer retailer Flavourly have a distinct spring feel to them.
There are plenty of pale ales, alongside lower-alcohol session India pale ales (IPA), and a couple of wild cards.
First Chop One Styrian Wolf Single Hop Pale Ale 4.2% (£2.75)
The latest in a series of single hop beers from Flavourly’s partnership with the First Chop brewery in Manchester delivers mandarin, pine, and a grainy note on the nose before launching into more malted toffee sweetness across the palate. It’s really well balanced and, for me, almost hits the same heights as February’s Hallertau Blanc. Styrian Wolf is a relatively-new hop from Slovenia.
Beatnikz Republic 2am Poet Extra Pale Ale 3.8% (£2.75)
Made by Manchester-based Beatnikz Republic, 2am Poet brings together hops from Europe and North America. The result is a nose full of peach and pineapple, and then fresher grapefruit and bitter lemon joining the pineapple on the really crisp palate.
Loch Lomond Brewery Time to Fly Pale Ale 4.5% (£2.50)
One of my recent favourites from Loch Lomond Brewery, which has created this exclusive pale ale for Flavourly. Lemon and grapefruit dominate on the nose, with a really refreshing bitter lemon twang on the tongue. Fresh and light on its feet – an ideal back garden treat for when the sun comes out.
Camerons Brewery Sanctuary Pale Ale 4% (£2.75)
Hartlepool-based Camerons normally only serves Sanctuary on draft, but it’s making an exclusive limited-edition appearance in cans with Flavourly. I was really impressed with its excellent balance – subtle pine and lemon on the nose and then a bitter tang moderated by light caramel and spun sugar on the palate, with lemon on the finish.
By The Horns Stroller Best Bitter 4.2% (£2.75)
Malted biscuit and coffee aromas lead into much fresher lemon flavours than I was expecting on the palate. The finish is an old-fashioned mix of bitter dark chocolate and coffee. In a world hell-bent on adding more and more hops into every IPA, best bitter is an underrated and much neglected style.
By The Horns Skyline Session IPA 4% (£2.75)
Hot on the heals of Stroller comes Flavourly’s second collaborative beer with By The Horns. It’s really complex on the nose, ranging from pine and spun sugar through to lime, lemon, grapefruit, and mandarin. On the palate, it’s light and uplifting, with more citrus and spun sugar, and then a slightly meltier finish. A lot of bang for your buck.
Freedom Brewery Liberty Series Tropical Session IPA 3.8%
Another interesting mix of tropical pineapple and guava with sweeter caramel and spun sugar on the nose, before launching into a very fresh palate full of lemon, grapefruit, and slightly rounder orange flavours. A cracking bitter twist on the finish too.
Quantock Brewery The Scientist American Amber 3.6% (£2.75)
Apart from making me hum Coldplay’s 2002 hit as I sampled it, there’s nowt wrong with this amber ale. Heavy peach aromas give way to a surprisingly-chewy texture on the palate, which segues into bitter lemon on the finish. If this is what goes on in Tauton-based Quantock’s laboratory then its scientists should be given free-rein more often.
First Chop Ooft Blackberry Wheat 4.6% (£2.75)
The first in a new series of “Ooft” fruit beers, this is a fascinating wee ditty. Raspberry and orange hues in the glass give little hint at the heavy smoke and blackcurrant flavours lurking beneath. Those sharper blackcurrants give way to richer blackberry flavours on the finish, but it’s the heavy smoke that dominates.
Read more of Peter Ranscombe’s beer, wine and whisky reviews on his drinks blog, The Grape & The Grain