- TWO SHEDS, CROOKES: Back when it was still legal, as I was preparing for another two-Zoom-session Saturday afternoon, I decided to treat myself to a couple of take-home pints. I chose one of the craft beers, Vivo Norwegian IPA (4.5% ABV, Wild Beer Company, Shepton Mallet, Somerset). Brewed with Simcoe and Victoria Secret hops as well as Kveik yeast, this is actually a pretty nice pale IPA with a cooling character, so I was quite happy with it. I drank one pint during the weekly quiz (which I won this time) and the other pint during the start of the pints-with-a-friend Zoom which immediately followed. So I was quite happy with my purchase. I do wonder, though, what can possibly be Norwegian about IPA. Is it brewed especially for people who own Norwegian Blue parrots?
- WALKLEY BEER COMPANY, WALKLEY: During the same time period I took home a couple of pints of Pale Fire APA (4.8%, Pressure Drop Brewery, London). This is a good crisp pale, with a good Mosaic and Amarillo hops character. And it’s a...pint! Naturally I had to drink it out of one of my pint glasses, because even a keg pint taken home in a plastic bottle offers a bit more pub excitement than just popping open another can. Yes, this is a nice drop. I spread the two pints over two evenings as well.
BOTTLED/CANNED BEER UPDATE:
- Low Voltage IPA (4.3% ABV, Brixton Brewery, Brixton, Greater London): Brewed with New World hops, this is a fairly mild IPA, so it’s not exactly a hopmonster. But it’s quite drinkable and somewhat fruity. On the can it says “Laid back”, and yes, it’s definitely laid back. There is no danger of this beer causing a panic attack.
- Iced Tea Dead People (4.6% ABV, Abbeydale Brewing Company, Sheffield, South Yorkshire): This is a Peach Iced Tea beer with El Dorado hops, peaches, and organic sencha tea from Sheffield’s Birdhouse Tea Company, and also hibiscus flowers. I was a bit scared to taste this unusual combination of flavours, but this is actually a really nice beer with a dry peach-friendly hops boing! I’d describe it as having a boingy dry peachiness with a cup-of-tea background. Not only is this a successful beer, but it’s the best name for a beer I’ve seen in awhile.
- Endless Summer (4.5% ABV, Black Iris Brewery, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire): Brewed with Mosaic and Simcoe hops, and contained within a simple white and black can, this is hoppy and refreshing. There’s not much more I can say.
- The Hero’s Showdown (4.5% ABV, Abbeydale Brewing Company, Sheffield, South Yorkshire): After my success with the peach tea beer the other night, I decided to just forge ahead and try a beer containing fresh watermelon and dried hibiscus leaves. Hopped with Citra and Cascade, this is another very interesting brew. One would expect it to be pink, but it has the same golden colour as other pales. It leaves a gentle zinginess on the tongue, and there’s tartness as well.
- Absolution (5.3% ABV, Abbeydale Brewing Company, Sheffield, South Yorkshire): When I first tasted this beer years ago on cask, I remember being disappointed, because I was fully expecting something as heavenly as Abbeydale Deception was back then. And as this had a higher ABV than Deception, I never chose it again. But here in a can in the safety of my own home, it’s pleasant enough, especially on this bitterly cold night.
- Grower Owned IPA (6.0% ABV, Magic Rock Brewery, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, in collaboration with Yakima Chief Hopunion of Yakima, Washington): Brewed with T90 Cascade, Simcoe, Mosaic, and Citra hops, then dry-hopped with Simcoe, Mosaic, and Citra lupulin powder, and including WL, P066, and London Fog yeasts, this beer is a complicated creation, with that distinct Cryo/Cascade touch on the palate, like a snowy walk on the top of Mt Rainier while listening to a chemistry class on your headphones. It’s very nice.
- Jackhammer Ruthless IPA (7.2% ABV, Brewdog, Ellon, Aberdeenshire, Scotland): On the can is the brewery’s declaration, “United we stand for better beer, fiercely defiant and independent to the bitter end.” I have to say that this is a verrrrrrrrry bitter brew. In fact, it’s so bitter that what’s not bitter in it tastes sweet in comparison. And I know it’s not. This jarring hammer has torn up my pavements and awakened me from the threat of another pandemic-caused depressive episode. Thanks, Jack! I do love special select Jacks (including my favourite cat in my second home in California). It’s bitter, like the bitter world we’re living in right now. It makes my eyes squeeze closed, it’s so bitter. Yes!
- Ripe Times (6.5% ABV, Magic Rock Brewing, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, in collaboration with Salt Beer Factory, Shipley, West Yorkshire): Apparently this is a DOH NEIPA. I understand the New England IPA, and the Double Hopped, but the O? Oh, I get it, it’s Double Dry Hopped. Anyway, that’s all the information there is on the can, along with lots of bold graffiti-style colours and the word SALT in the middle, which at first confused me. This is another beer brewed with cryo hops, specifically Cryo Citra and Cryo Simcoe, then dry-hopped with Idaho 7 and Simcoe, and more of that London Fog yeast. I’m sipping this as I’m finishing reading a present-day dystopian novel, Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam. Considering we’re living in a hopefully only temporary pandemic-caused dystopia, I guess I decided to escape into something slightly more dystopian. I know how to have a good time, and Ripe Times seems to work well with it.
- Pekkochu DDH Pale (3.9% ABV, The Brew Foundation, Sheffield, South Yorkshire): This double dry-hopped beer, in a maddeningly appealing pale orange can with thin red details, is brewed with Pekko and Citra hops, extra pale and wheat malts, and Labrew New England yeast, which is described as lending a dank and fruity character. The tasting notes on the can are simply “hazy, pineapple, mango”. I was surprised at my first sip: there is a lot going on for such a low-ABV beer. It’s full of tropical dankness in a very pale hoppy brew, and I really like it, even though the name makes me think regrettably of my friends who have become Pokemon-Go zombies, distracted from human interaction by the cute little animated creatures hiding all around them in their virtual realities. But the name also reminds me of the peekaboo-blue sky we experienced for a couple of hours this afternoon, so refreshingly exciting after weeks of the same grey monotony. Regardless, this is another beer that I definitely want to experience again.
- Melba Peach IPA (5.2% ABV, Thornbridge Brewing Company, Bakewell, Derbyshire): Apparently I tried this beer three years ago and liked it. But this time I find it a bit too sweet for me, overpowering on the peach side. It would probably appeal to someone who wants a peach spritzer, but not someone who wants an interesting but still hoppy IPA. Perhaps Thornbridge have changed the recipe and added more peach, making it a bit too peachy.
- Spark IPA (6.0% ABV, Tollgate Brewery, Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Derbyshire): On this stressful Friday after being at work all afternoon, keeping up on my brother’s surgery in California, experiencing the first day of our return to the Covid-19 Tier system, where our area is in the highest tier, and the announcement of the rollout of the first vaccine, it’s been a whew kind of day, with a lot to take in. Where do I go? What do I think? What do I feel? The only thing I definitely know is that it’s time for a beer, and this bottle-conditioned amber beer is pleasant enough, both malty and hoppy. This would appeal to an IPA traditionalist, who likes their beers like they used to be, before all of the hybrid hops and experimentations.
- Present Shoop (6.4% ABV, Salt Beer Factory, Shipton, West Yorkshire, brewed in collaboration with Pomona Brew Co, Salford, Greater Manchester): Brewed with Victoria Secret, Enigma, and Motueka hops, this beer is described as tasting of passionfruit, lime, pineapple, and melon. The can is a surprisingly pleasing colour combination of milk chocolate brown with thin black geometrics. This is another cool cloudy hoppy splash to brighten up the frigid winter day.
- In Dreams (5.6% ABV, Pressure Drop Brewing, London): This is yet another New England IPA. I was attracted to the name of the beer as well as the brewery name, as it makes me think of one of my favourite ska tunes. The name of the beer comes from a Henry David Thoreau quote, “Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake, which is quite a beautiful thought, especially if you’re happily skanking away. Brewed with Mosaic and Idaho 7 hops, this beer has really pleased me because over the top of the fruitiness is a wallop of pine, which is a flavour bouquet I really like. I feel as though I’m sitting in the middle of a Christmas tree farm. What a pleasant smell and taste. I am indeed awake in a dream.
- Murk-Life Balance (5.0% ABV, Magic Rock Brewing Company, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire): This is a mildly hazy pale ale which has turned out to be another nice hoppy brew, very pale. Does the “Life” half of the balance refer to the nonmurkiness, perhaps indicating being able to see clearly through this Covid-19 murk into maybe a lower tier level and the future of everyone being vaccinated and life again returning to normal? Or is it simply that this hazy brew isn’t as hazy as others I’ve had recently? Could it be the lighting? The malts used are Golden Promise, Malted Oats, and Torrefied Wheat, the yeast is London Fog, but there is no mention of what the hops are except that they’re Australian. The beer has a nice mango grapefruit character to it, so I’m happy.
Deliverance DIPA (8.5% ABV, Abbeydale Brewing Company, Sheffield, South Yorkshire): There are currently two different Abbeydale Deliverances out right now, and this is definitely the stronger one. Brewed with Galaxy and Vic Secret hops, it’s a nice familiar hops combination. But I must say it’s pretty, wow, Stronge. And yes, I mean to spell that with an E. And probably an X as well, as in Strongxe. I will definitely feel this can when I’m finished with it.
- Magic 8 Ball Black IPA (7.0% ABV, Magic Rock Brewing Company, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire): I haven’t had a black IPA for quite awhile. But it’s been a cold wintery week with the sun setting mid-afternoon, so why not? I always promise myself I’ll veer away from my pale IPAs and have some good ol’ porter in December, so why not an IPA that looks like a porter? It’s a good roasty IPA as well. It’s brewed with a nice assortment of Cascade, Citra, Columbus, Magnum, and Nelson Sauvin hops as well as Carafa Special 3, Golden Promise, and Munich malts, so it’s a bit like an around-the-world holiday cruise. “Cruise ships roasting on an open fire..."
- Naranjito (4.5% ABV, Brooklyn Brewing Company, Brooklyn, New York): This was a nice follower to the black IPA I started the evening’s Zoom session with. There is a good distinctive hops in this beer which is quite pleasing, as well as some orange peel. It’s light with a touch of orange, as the name suggests. The brewery’s website recommends it with Mexican food and grilled shrimp, which sounds like a great idea. When do we eat?
- Hop Salad Hazy IPA (6.0% ABV, 8 Wired Brewing Company, Warkworth, New Zealand): Nelson Sauvin, Mosaic, Citrus, and Galaxy hops. This is my very first Kiwi beer in a can! I’m so excited to taste it, as New Zealand is home to many of the fine hops. And I do like salads. Once again this is my Saturday Zoom pub group quiz refreshment, miles away from the Southern Hemisphere but only a few clicks virtually.
- Ninth Wave New World Pale Ale (5.4% ABV, The White Hag Irish Brewing Company, Ballymote, County Sligo, Ireland): “Ninth wave” is an old sailing term for an especially big wave, due to the fact that it’s likely to appear after several smaller ones. The term also refers, in Irish mythology, to the barrier that separates the earthly world from the “otherworld “. In this particular case, it refers to another good hoppy brew as well as my first Irish can of beer. And this good hoppy Irish beer follows the good hoppy New Zealand beer with which I preceded it excellently. It just proves that it’s worthwhile to branch out a bit from the usual English and American offerings.
- Misty Miyagi Hazy IPA (6.5% ABV, Deep Creek Brewing Company, Silverdale, Auckland, New Zealand): The brewery has called this their “summer Haiku beer”. On the can is a haiku that reads the following: “The Haiku Project / Eastern Philosophy meets / East Coast USA. // Misty Miyagi / Zen master, summer Sensai / a strong gentle brew. // Tropical flavours / Mango, passion fruit, citrus / hiding in the haze.” I’m quite intrigued by the Haiku Project, as I was a major contributor to the Lost Years Haiku Project, a collection of brand-placement verse for email subscribers which was originated by my brilliant performing artist friend Robert way back before Facebook and WhatsApp and everybody having their own website.
But back to the beer: this is really cool. It’s a nice hoppy tropical beer, and it’s also my second Kiwi can of beer. And it’s in such a colourful can as well. The name is probably from Mr Miyagi, who was the coach in The Karate Kid.
- Straight Outta Crosspool West Coast IPA (5.6% ABV, Crosspool Alemakers Society, Sheffield, South Yorkshire): When I saw the photo on the can of three famous rappers of the Sheffield neighbourhood of Crosspool, obviously I had to buy it. Yo, this beer is dark amber, so it’s a beer of colour. And it’s brewed with Chinook, Centennial, and Cascade hops, know what I’m sayin’? This is sick, man.
- Scafell (6.5% ABV, Northern Monk Brewery, Holbeck, Leeds, West Yorkshire): This is a New England IPA brewed with Citra, Mosaic, and Simcoe hops. And there’s something really interesting about the taste, something surprisingly nostalgic...that’s, um, quite...something! It smells great as it’s poured out of the can, like a fragrant waterfall. It’s like an ice floe through a field with a touch of sage blossom and juniper leaves, and a cat’s wet chest where it’s been bathing itself. In other words, well, just use your imagination. This is a very imaginative beer.
- Juicebox Citrus IPA (5.8% ABV, Fourpure Brewing, Bermondsey, Greater London): With a graphic of a cassette tape on the can, this music-inspired beer has some fresh orange zest on top of the tropical fruitiness. I forgot to chill it a bit, which I’ve been doing with all of these cans of craft keg. But it is mid-December, the day that Boris has announced that 2020’s Christmas is still on, so the beer is cool enough to enjoy. And to add to the anticipation, I dropped the can on the kitchen floor, so I had to open it very carefully. With all that in mind, it’s turned out to be an easy drinking brew with a semi-modern hoppy bitter.
- Sour Solstice (4.8% ABV, London Beer Factory, London): This blood orange and cranberry sour beer is actually red, definitely the reddest beer I’ve ever had, if I’ve ever even had a red beer before. It’s a Berliner Weisse, which makes me think of more of the colour white rather than red. It’s yeasted with Bry-97, which I think is probably the important aspect of both the character and the taste. Wow, it’s a lot of fun. I’ve already been enjoying blood orange as an ingredient in IPAs, but the cranberry addition in this one makes up for any potential lack of superhoppiness. It’s a fun beer, a pure Tier 3 Xmess quaff.
- Laughing Water Hoppy Pale (4.3% ABV, The Brew Foundation, Sheffield, South Yorkshire): For a change from the cans I bought a bottle of beer. Brewed with Jester, Galena, and Amarillo hops, those lovely hops are dancing in a fruity ambience with plenty of citrus bite. This is a very nice beer -- laughing along with me, as my last day of work until next year has finished and I’ve got fresh clean sheets on the bed. Life is (relatively) good right now, considering Covid-19 and Brexit and everything else. So I shall enjoy these few moments while they last, with a good book and a nice brew. Tomorrow we shall return to a Covid Xmas, and all the mosquito hordes that buzz...
- 270° WCIPA (6.6% ABV, Triple Point Brewing Company, Sheffield, South Yorkshire): I popped this open early in the afternoon after learning we’ve been ejected from the Christmas day plans I was looking forward to. So now we’re looking forward to a festive day with two depressed people stuck in the same house alone, as it has been throughout the entire Lockdown, on Xmess Day. What fun. So I’ve decided to get pissed tonight, starting with this. It’s brewed with Citra, Casade, and Centennial hops, which seem to be pretty much your classic American hops. And it’s hoppy, yes, but in a restrained way, with a cinnamon-stick-textured finesse on the tongue. The name of the beer refers to 270 degrees due west, which is the directional heading for sunset, apparently. So bring on sunset, I say!
- Nigaru Nui New Zealand IPA (6.0% ABV, Black Irish Brewing Company, New Basford, Nottinghamshire): The can of this southern-hemisphere beer features a nice Hokkaido-style wave visible in the white line graphic which stands out on the black can. The beer inside suggests some nice Kiwi hops. So it’s sort of like a holiday away from all of this.
- Sure Shot 15 Mile Round Trip Double IPA (8.0% ABV, Vocation Brewing Company, Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, in collaboration with Sure Shot Brewing Company in Manchester): As I’m trying this beer in mid-December, before yet another lockdown, my hair is newly brightly-coloured, so I’m feeling relatively good. Christmas is looking extremely bleak and lonely, so why not break away and take a long, strong journey through hopfields of the world? This beer is brewed with Galaxy (for jetting around planets), Mosaic (bringing to mind the tile floors of Morocco), and Citra (ending with a tour through Southern California orchards). The idea of this appeals to me, as the only desire I have at the moment is to travel somewhere far away from where I am now. And my first sip brings a wh-wh-wh-WHOW! Yep, I can hear the crackle of the cocked barrel, the instant reloading, the Wham! Wham! Wham into my palate. This will bring out the neon turquoise, jade green, and purple in my hair, yessireebob!
- Hibernation (4.2% ABV, Abbeydale Brewing Company, Sheffield, South Yorkshire): It’s been a dark, nonstop wet day, a depressing “No Future” sort of day. Due to the fact that I couldn’t sleep past 4:00am, I spent the day thrashing to the Sex Pistols and Dead Kennedys between collapsing and snoozing. But I’m now contentedly drinking my 5pm can of beer, early at 4:15pm, while reading my current book My Year of Meat by Ruth L Ozeki. So I can accurately say I’ve been hibernating today. This Hibernation is dry hopped, with a good balance of citrus, stone fruit, and pine resin, the way I like it at the moment. Yep. I may buy more cans of this, and then I won’t come out until Groundhog Day...2022.
- Perceptionless (6.6% ABV, Redwillow Brewery, Macclesfield, Cheshire): A New England IPA, this comes in a purple and lavender can and is pleasantly hoppy and aromatic. Brewed with Mosaic, Citra, and Simcoe hops and named intriguingly, this is my Christmas Eve drink, the evening before a day of nothingness. Wow, but it’s a lot of fun.
- Crash (5.0% ABV, Salt Beer Factory, Shipton, West Yorkshire): Another American pale ale, this beer takes its name not from a collision, a stock market drop, a computer failure, or a group of rhinoceroses, but from a rough fabric made of undyed yarns. It’s quite a lovely hoppy brew with that nice balance of fruit and pine. Perhaps the reason I love those flavours is because I grew up in Southern California, full of orange groves and other fruit crops, and then moved to the Evergreen State in the Pacific Northwest, with all those pine trees. I do like nature. And I do like hoppy beers.
- Ink & Dagger Modern Day IPA (6.5% ABV, Amundsen Brewery, Oslo, Norway): This beer’s can is very pretty, red and turquoise and green with a gold dragon design, sort of a marriage of Aztec and Chinese. And it’s a nice beer as well, brewed with Magnum, Citra, Mosaic, and Simcoe hops as well as lupulin. I chose to drink this beer as a prelude to my Boxing Day Special-Edition Cocktail Party Zoom quiz, which had been delayed by a day because of the quizmaster’s massive Christmas day hangover. All of us were supposed to dress up for the quiz, but several people didn’t, and most of the participants were drinking beer and Prosecco instead of cocktails. So this can of beer was a nice prelude to several gin and tonics. And I even dressed up a bit fancy, wearing a skirt for the first time in a year. How strange it is to be sitting at home, all dressed up, in front of one’s laptop. (No one was to know I was wearing bedroom slippers instead of fancy shoes.)
- Reflections on a Floating World (6.0% ABV, Yeastie Boys, Wellington, New Zealand, in collaboration with Pivovarna Pelicon, Ajdovščina): This beer is fruity, hoppy, and crisp, very appropriate for the crisp and clear day I drank it, There was even a bit of snow, mostly melted by now but some left on the ground, and plenty of ice to reflect the clear sky above. But that sky made me very happy, as there was no wet stuff falling down and getting me soaked and shivering. This beer is most definitely reflecting fruit, specifically kumquats and grapefruit. The hops include Styrian Dragon, Styrian Fox, Nelson Sauvin, and Riwaka, and there is also Kolsch yeast and an extra dose of the beta-glucosidase enzyme. a what does the title refer to?
- SMASH IPA (5.5% ABV, The White Hag Irish Brewing Company, Ballymote, County Sligo, Ireland). Part of the brewery’s Union Series, SMASH stands for Single Malt And Single Hop, which is how this beer is made. The malt is Irish Ale malt, but sadly there is no mention of what the hops is. It’s just another nice pale hoppy brew, so it may be the Citra version. But with this horrendous year of 2020 nearly finished (as I drank this on the day before New Year’s Eve) perhaps, like what 2021 will bring us, it seems appropriate to not know for sure what hops are used.
- Faith Hazy Pale Ale (5.4% ABV, Northern Monk, Leeds, West Yorkshire): On the can it says: “Brian Dickson, brewer, described as an affable and vaguely eccentric brewing wizard in oversized wellies", so somehow I can picture him perfectly. The beer he’s created is quite a nice starter for this c’mon-let’s-get-it-over-with New Year’s Eve before 2020 is finally done and dusted. Thank god! It’s got an appropriately cool, frosty hoppy character for the cool, frosty day.
- Gunnamatta Earl Grey IPA (6.5% ABV, Yeastie Boys, Wellington, New Zealand): This Kiwi tea-inspired beer is smoother than one would expect, and lighter, but interesting and unique. The can says it’s floral and smells like “your granny’s bedroom” -- but obviously they aren’t referring to my late granny, because “musty old lady” doesn’t sound like a beer flavour I would want to try. This was created for the Great Australian Beer SpecTAPular in 2012. The ingredients include plenty of Earl Grey Blue Flower Tea as well as New Zealand’s own Pacific Jade hops. And the beer is named after Gunnamatta Bay in southern Sydney, Australia, which itself is named for the sandy hills.
- Crystal Rye IPA (5.0% ABV, Adnams and Company, Southwold, Suffolk): Brewed with Victoria Secret hops and Crystal Rye malt, this definitely has that slightly rusty colour and distinctly sharp bitterness that I recall from rye IPAs. Also present is that unforgettably unique Adnams character as well.
- American Psycho (6.6% ABV, WIlde Child Brewing Company, Leeds, West Yorkshire): Once again the name of a beer attracted me first, and the fact that the hops used are Columbus, Centennial, Chinook, and Simcoe pretty much convinced me to try it. Mixed in with the hops is a strong malt presence as well. The can’s design features a splattering of psychoness, but it’s suspiciously a bit Jackson Pollock style. As I sip this beer I can’t help but wonder why someone hasn’t yet brewed a Bob Ross Happy Cloud IPA...
- BB No. 5 India Pale Ale (6.2% ABV, Brew By Numbers, London): Brewed with Strata and modern American Talus hops, this hazy beer’s flavours are described as “stone fruit, tangerine, and lemon rind with dankness, with oats balancing the profile.” And once again, it’s another fine brew, with that typical wow-inspired American hop character. And what quality hops these are as well, with that almost icy/cryo character. This turned out to be a great lift for another fuck-it-s-another-day-in-Dysphoria Sunday.
- Frisco (5.0% ABV, Thornbridge Brewing Company, Bakewell, Derbyshire): Described on the can as a “California Common Beer”, I have to say that as a native Californian who drinks beer I’ve never heard that particular term before. Brewed with HBC 522 hops and described as tasting like pine, mango, caramel and orange, it doesn’t really suggest what I might call Californian, from those first interesting microbrewing days of the 1980s or the exciting days of the hoppy/yeasty experimentation of today’s California. But I suppose, since the beer is called “Frisco” (which Californians, especially those in the Bay Area, never use to refer to San Francisco), it’s a bit of a misnomer in general. Stll, it’s an okay little pint with a mild flavour, not overly challenging, and a subtle orange-grove orange on the edge.
- Supernaut IPA (5.5% ABV, Liquid Light BRewing Company, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire): The list of hops includes Citra leaf hot side, Motueka T-90, Amarillo T-90, Ekuanot T-90, and Simcoe T-90. So just what are T-90 hops? Looking the term up online, I learned that they are hops pellets that are produced from kiln-dried, whole leaf hop cones which have been hammered into oblivion and formed into pellets, which for some reason makes me think back to when I was a girl feeding my pet hamsters and rats. The tasting notes suggest complex hops, stone fruit, berries and pine, which are just exactly what JC’s doctor ordered. I enjoyed this on a cold crisp clear night after Storm Christof decided to dump lots of rain on the British Isles, and more importantly, it was also on the first day of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris being President and Vice President of the USA. The beer is quite thickly hazy, but ooh, yes, that hops character, especially the tangy fruit and the pine resin. The aroma as I poured it out of the can into the glass produced an audible yem! from me, thick and chewy with a heavenly incense. The nice green can features sketchings of some sort of unicellular life, or perhaps a pattern of green leatherette for a handbag. Or maybe the design is supposed to suggest floating globs of green oil in a green ocean. Whatever it’s supposed to be, it’s green, and I like green. Anything red, green, or black is mighty fine with me.
- Blizzard in the Pines IPA (7.0% ABV, Pentrich Brewing Company, Ripley, Derbyshire): Brewed with Mosaic, Simcoe, and Idaho Gem hops, this is hazy like a blizzard in the pines and just a really enjoyable IPA, obviously with those great hops. I drank it while I was on our weekly Zoom pub group quiz, this time celebrating both my birthday the following day and the exit of Donald Trump. So anything was going to taste good at that point.
- Huckster Cryo NEIPA (6.0% ABV, Abbeydale Brewing Company, Sheffield, South Yorkshire): A collaboration with Sheffield’s own Peddler’s Market, this was my first can of beer for my birthday Zoom session with Mike, our fellow beer-loving Sheffield friend. Featuring an interesting hops mixture of Ekuanot, Eureka, Sorachi Ace, Galaxy, Vic Secret, Citra, and Ekuanot Cryo, and also Windsor Ale and London ESB yeasts, this was definitely a good hazy hop-bitter accompaniment to our always interesting sessions, and it’s quickly become one of my current favourites.
- Dirty Deeds New England IPA (6.6% ABV, Allendale Brewing Company, Hexham, Northumberland): The can features an evil rabbit and owl motif, with the announcement that this is “from England’s Lost Wilderness.” There is no mention on the can of the hops, but there is plenty of hare and rabbit imagery, so I don’t quite know what the can is trying to say. (When I hold it up to my ear I can’t hear anything.) Anyway, it’s a typical NEIPA, bitter and cutting in character.
- Holding Back the Tiers (5.2% ABV, Brew York, North Yorkshire): This is another super hoppy bitter combination. It’s called, simply, a “classic American pale”. The hops include T90 pellets of CT2, as well as both T-90 and Cryo versions of Citra, Mosaic, and Simcoe, and the malts are Extra Pale and Vienna. The name of this beer refers to the hopes that we soon graduate from the Covid-19 tiers. Wah-hah! There’s that cryo character I’ve fallen in love with in these strange otherworldly times.
- Doctor Morton’s Proper Gander (4.1% ABV, Abbeydale Brewing Company, Sheffield, South Yorkshire): How exciting to see the ol’ Doc in cans in my local Bargain Booze! I’m quite sure I’ve had this beer in a pub on cask, and now I can drink it at home. On the can, along with lots of other things that Doctor Morton beers also espouse, it says it’s Shameless, and also “By Jingo It Sure Is Tasty”. And indeedie so, it sure the heck is! What a lovely hoppy pale this is, yessireebob!
- The Chameleon Series: Galaxy (5.5% ABV, Little Critters, Sheffield, South Yorkshire): This is a dry hopped pale ale with whole leaf Columbus, Citra, and various other hops added later in the brewing. It’s a nice reward for a technostressed day amid temperature extremes. After I met a friend for a dogwalk and a 3-dimensional chat, my fingers were frozen so solid I couldn’t operate them at all for zippers or writing a note . And then for dinner, a bite of some absolutely delicious spicy Lebanese moutabal from a nearby restaurant apparently had a tiny bit of the hottest chile I have ever experienced, and my normally high tolerance for heat was completely humbled as I was rendered unable to eat or speak for nearly a half hour. So I’d travelled from the extremes of the Arctic all the way to Death Valley in just one afternoon.
- Black Eagle (5.8% ABV, Brew York, York, North Yorkshire): This is a black IPA brewed with Cascade, Centennial, Columbia, and Chinook hops. And it’s very, very black indeed. I drank this during a snowy Sunday Zoom session with our friend Mike. It was surprisingly rich for the usual black IPAs I’ve had. But as it kept on snowing and snowing, I suppose the black was a good contrast to all that white. And that intense black made me think of the scientists at MIT who, in September 2019, discovered the "blackest black" material ever discovered, made using carbon nanotubes. It was the same material that was used to make Vantablack, once considered the world's darkest material and able to absorb 99.965% of visible light. Now, that’s pretty darn black, if you ask me.
- Doctor Morton’s Duck Baffler (4.1% ABV, Abbeydale Brewing Company, Sheffield, South Yorkshire): Brewed with Citra hops, this is just a nice drinkable pale ale. I was happy to see the ol’ Doc in cans, as it’s been quite awhile since I’ve enjoyed one of this range in a pint in a pub. So it’s possible I may have had Duck Baffler before, on cask. I do have a fond attachment to ducks these days. The highlight of my long walk into my job three days a week is a stop for some avian meditation at the Weston Park duck pond, where all the mallards descended from two original pairs, and there are also lots of pigeons, crows, coots, and moorhens, as well as larger ducks. (I’m fascinated by the large black duck with white chest who is always with two large white ducks.) On the can of this beer it says the following: "For all your wildfowl acquisition needs. Preferred by 9 out of 10 mallards tested. The other has been donated to a local takeaway to teach him a lesson about loyalty." As I drank this on the first of ten days off work, I realised I would probably not visit my duck friends during my break. So this beer helped me remember them.
- But What Is Normal? (6.5% ABV, Off Peak Brewing, Bakewell, Derbyshire): This is a hazy DDH IPA, brewed with Cascade, Comet, and Ekuanot hops and described as “Papaya, Mango, Grapefruit”. It’s an interesting hopzy brew, with a hint of sweet character to the bouquet of hops, like a bunch of lilies and orchids in a gorgeous vase.