Where I talk about the beers that I am currently drinking tonight and attempt to review them. The kind of fun bit is that I’m actually drinking the beer as I’m reviewing it.
BITTER & TWISTED – Harviestoun Brewery (Hillfoots Village, Scotland) – 4.2% ABV
Actually, a reader suggested this beer. When I was in my local booze store, I noticed that they had recently stocked their shelves with this Blond Beer from Scotland and quickly picked it up. I’ve only ever tried a few brews from Harviestoun before, their famous Olah Dubh. Dark ale that has been matured in Highland Park whisky casks. The 16 and 18 year old brews in particular I call my “sleepy-time” drink. I have one of those and I get all warm and just drift off to sleep.
But I’ve never had anything else by them before and jeez, was I missing out. Lets go through it, shall we?
COLOUR – Nice, crisp, dark golden colour. The type of colour you’d expect to see in your mother’s jewelry (and just as shiny)
AROMA – VERY citrusy smell to it. Grapefruit, definitely. Maybe a lemon or two. It’s actually quite decietful, since the aroma gives off the impression that this won’t be a bitter beer at all. There’s a SLIGHT hint, but still. But as we’ll find out…
TASTE – Dear, sweet Jesus that will be resurrected soon, what a freakin’ taste. The initial taste is very smooth and you can tell that this is the beer showing it’s fun, citrusy side. This is where the Grapefruit and Lemon flavours REALLY come out to play. But the bitterness, god DAMN, the bitterness. According to the beer’s profile, it was hopped with three different types of hops. The Hallertau Hersbrücke for that subtle aroma, the Challenger hops, which gives this beer a bit of spice to compliment the citrus flavours, and the Styrian Goldings, which actually bring forth the citrusy aroma and flavours. I get the impression that the good people at Harviestoun put these hops in expecting a brutal, horrible fight and they ended up…er…doing something indecent. But that’s science for you, isn’t it?
Aftertaste is also very pleasant, leaving just a hint of the hoppiness that rocked your world in the limo after the concert and finally ending it off with the memory of being sweetly serenaded by the citrus overtones. Peeled grapes and togas might have been involved. It’s okay, I won’t judge.
VERDICT – You know, since Spring is coming (taking its dear sweet time, but still coming), I’ve been slowly shifting away from the dark heavy ales and have been craving something lighter but with a bit more of a bite to it. This beer fits the bill and with its citrus overtones, it did a DAMN fine job of welcoming the season for me while still giving me that hoppy bite that I so crave in beers. This beer also gets top marks for restoring my faith in below 5% ABV beers. I honestly wouldn’t have suspected that this would have an alcohol content of 4.2%. Harviestoun, you done good.
And now to have some dinner before I move on to the next beer…
GEMINI IMPERIAL BLENDED ALE – Southern Tier Brewing Company (Lakewood, NY) – 9.0% ABV
This beer was one of those drinks that you can’t help but notice just popping up in the store and you wonder “What are YOU all about, then?”. The packaging is lovely and the description by the brewers on this limited release Imperial India Pale Ale is quite poetic. It’s been in my local store for weeks now, but due to the price (around $9.00) I had to hold off on buying a bottle until I was able to justify the money. And well, I finally justified it. Let’s ‘ave a butcher’s.
COLOUR – Dark, cloudy, slightly peach-coloured. The DARK part of the peach, at any rate. Good start, so far. Gotta say, that’s a fine lookin’ head on it too.
AROMA – Fruity. Berries. As the beer started adjusting to not being in the fridge a SLIGHT hint of honey came up. Some people have claimed that there’s an earthy smell to it, but I haven’t noticed it. Maybe it’s because I don’t snort dirt. I don’t know.
TASTE – Well. it definintely lives up to it’s alcohol content of 9%, because that sucker punched me at the initial taste like…uh…some boxer at a grudge match (I don’t follow boxing and saying Mike Tyson seems a bit too “done”). The syrupy malt texture is hitting me and the hints of berries and honey have gotten stronger. One thing I will say about this baby is that it is CREAMY. No acidic feelings at the back of my throat like a few IPAs have given me. The hops really does have a strong presence, but with the creaminess it’s like I’m being punched with a pillow between me and the fist. I’m not getting the whole she-bang out of the hops and in this case I think that’s a good thing.
Aftertaste is pretty good. The berries and honey taste remains and I’m finding myself moving my tongue around because the texture was so smooth and I liked it. The hops flavour was clearly not around to cuddle and left with the glass. Something about an early meeting. (EDIT: Turns out there’s an after-after taste. When the berry and honey hints left the hops came back to get its keys. Lasted for a few minutes.)
VERDICT – Eh. While I enjoy the smoothness of the beer and the slight honey aroma and taste, I feel like there’s not much to this beer and, especially after the Bitter & Twisted, this beer doesn’t seem like all that even with its high alcohol content. So what I’m saying was, you were alright, Gemini. And I might give you a ring some time if I feel like just getting drunk, but that’s only if my other stand-bys aren’t available.
SIDE NOTE – The experience was SLIGHTLY made better when I just sat back and thought about things, swirling the glass like I would with a snifter of Brandy. Halfway through, there’s a warm feeling that is nice. Still not all that, but it has a slight appeal.