|Peak beer: IPA at its finest|
Brought to you by Rachel Flatt
Hitting the wall. Having a jour sans. Bonking. Sport, and particularly cycling, has many terms for the feeling of having had enough. I’m living all of them today.
Barely halfway through the annual alcoholic marathon and I’m having a genuine Paula Radcliffe moment, not least as a result of my ill-advised experiment with a too young chocolate stout last night.
Whether it’s the cumulative effect of one beer after another combined with a particularly busy festive social diary this year, I’m not sure, but this morning – a morning off work at that – I opened the calendar and looked upon today’s beer with actual dread.
Doubtless fuelled by last evening’s creative team Christmas night out, in a display of sheer bravado stupidity (and egged on by Robin Turner, I might add), I stated I’d be drinking today’s beer before heading into the office this afternoon. Thankfully, common sense and an overbearing sensation of queasiness trumped the rashness and I’ve left it till much later.
But now, looking at the bottle, I’m struggling to work out how the Hell I’m going to manage it. Hasn’t helped that I sampled a few of the Purple Brewers circle homebrews earlier this evening, of course. Or that the works drinks trolley came out early today due to it being Christmas Jumper Wearing day, or some such.
The bottle is eyeing me as if it knows I can’t handle it. The glass vessel equivalent of looking down its nose and sneering as if to say I’m not worth its bother. I’m being stared down by a fucking bottle of beer. And what’s more, it’s working.
It’s moments such as these that I question the wisdom of this undertaking. All I want to do right now is drink mineral water and take milk thistle supplements, yet I’m presented with a ruddy great hulk of a beer instead. O me miserum, o me infelicem.
I’ll stop bellyaching now and get on with it. Bottles can stare at you all they like. I’ve got a bottle opener and I’m going to use it.
Beer: Buxton Brewery Ace Edge
Strength: A genuinely intimidating 6.8%
Smell: It smells of strong IPA cheese on a cocktail stick with a piece of dilapidated pineapple chunk. And faintly of unpasturised Stilton, though that's probably coming from my fingers after having eaten a rather large portion of it earlier at Mike's.
Tasting notes: Never judge a beer by its aroma is what I say. This is ruddy fantastic. I had a feeling it'd be much fruitier than I could face, but not a bit of it. For the beer nerds, it's an IPA hopped with Sorachi Ace, the Japanese hop grown in Hokkaido and originally used in Sapporo beers. Wasted on them, really. It's perfect for offsetting the kind of malt bill needed for a beer of this strength, cutting a fine citrusy figure with its lemony chin out and zesty shoulders pinned back. Right now, it's holding sway in the bar room that is my mouth. A bar room that's seen all sorts of flavours battling it out for supremacy tonight thanks to an early evening of homebrew tasting at Michael and Emma's place in Southwark. Among those vying for the title were the unpasturised Stilton mentioned above, two types of chutney, a saison, a dark Belgian ale, a Hefeweiss, a monster of a beer Andy brought over from Canada cut with biscuit syrup and a spoonful of biscuit butter from Belgium. I'm frankly amazed I can taste anything. But this cracker from the Peak District peers down from Kinder Scout in much the same way as the bottle did to me earlier and outranks the lot. I don't often give a money-back guarantee, but I will with this one. Seek it out.
Arbitrary score: 181,114Sponsor: Rachel Flatt