Saturday, 20 December 2014

12 Beers Of Xmas No.1 - Cluster's Last Stand

I woke up this morning aching all over after fighting the beginnings of a cold for the last few days and I was wondering how I was going to survive the 12 Beers Of Xmas.  I even thought of swapping days 1 and 3 so I could start with a 330ml bottle rather than the ambitious 660ml.  The Anadin kicked in though and I am raring to go!  

The pictures will get more festive as I go along perhaps!  The 12 Beers of Xmas is going to be much bigger this year I sensed so I had to visit the Bitter Virtue in Southampton, a stupendous bottle shop, to add one or two special bottles to the ones I already had.  This one took my eye as it was a collaboration between the infamous Stone Brewing Co and the Smuttynose Brewing Company of Hampton in New Hampshire, which I am familiar with from my travels to New England.  The bottle does not indicate the strength or beer type but nothing ventured nothing gained.

The beer apparently recreates an original, right-after-Prohibition Ballantine IPA recipe as found in Mitch Steele's book on India Pale Ales (Mitch has been Brewmaster at Stone's since 2006).  The hops are mainly English.  The American Cluster hop is combined with the English Brewers Gold and East Kent and it is dry-hopped with the English Bullion.  An interesting combination.

This beer poured a clear golden colour and Untappd suggested it is an 8.6% ABV American APA although the Smuttynose website suggests 8.3% ABV.  The aroma is a little perfumed and fruity and my wife had first taste.  She liked it but thought it might be a little aromatic for me.  Not so.  Yes it is a little aromatic but there is so much more to this beer too.  There are tropical fruit flavours with pineapple particularly evident.  The beer is sweet and syrupy but there is a dryness and peppery edge to the finish that I particularly loved.  It is also warming and boozy which is something I needed tonight I think to keep my cold at bay.    

A very nice beer to start with and one of just a few of my twelve that is not a darker beer.  My wife gives it a 7/10 but I am much more generous and it gets a 9/10 from me.  


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