As reported in a previous blog, the Sainsbury's Great British Beer Hunt is in full swing and it's only right that I should do my bit to participate in the proceedings by making a start on some of the bottles I picked up from their store last week.
My first couple of choices were beased on the recommendations of some pals who had beaten me to trying them first. Two beers kept being mentioned in despatches as really nice beers and well worth trying. These were Harviestoun's Wild Hop IPA and Wye Valley Brewery's Wye Not.
One brewery I was familiar with, the other my knowledge of them was limited. That, perhaps, is one of the reasons why the Great British Beer Hunt is such a good idea. It gives drinkers the opportunity to try some beers from other parts of the country that you wouldn't ordinarily see in your local supermarket and at 3 for a fiver, there's not much financial risk involved if they turn out rank and not up to the job.
The first beer into my glass was fromWye Valley. My knowledge of this Herefordshire brewery is limited to their Dorothy Goodbody's Wholesome Stout which I've always found to be most agreeable on the few ocassions that I've had it. So, I was quite looking forward to trying Wye Not, a 4.5% bottle conditioned golden ale made with pale malt as well as Target and Celeia hops.
The glug from the bottle to glass revealed a paleish, golden amber coloured beer that had a fairly soft but lively carbonation that resulted in a inch thick loose white head at the top of the glass. It had a slightly bready nose with just a hint of grassy, citrus hops. These hints of hops intensify and become more apparent from aroma to taste as the citrus spice fill my mouth. There's also a trace of sweet floral honey that is very pleasant. Sugar and spice and all things nice.
The beer finishes with a crisp, satisfyingly bitter finish. Overall, it was a refreshing and very drinkable beer and one that I can see myself having again.
Harviestoun's Wild Hop IPA was next. Harviestoun are a Scottish brewery who have a solid reputation for turning out consistently tasty and well made beers. Their Ola Dubh series of whisky cask aged beers are sought after and well regarded and their range of cask beers usually tick all the boxes for me. Their range of beers just gets better and better with this summer's American IPA being a great addition.
The Wild Hop IPA was originally showcased in cask form at last October's Wetherspoons Real Ale festival. It's a very well hopped golden ale that thinks it's an IPA. It uses a variety of U.S. and U.K. hops and it's an interesting and aggressive beast that screams with coarse orange and grapefruit bitterness that carries through to a slightly abrasive finish. I found it a beer that lacked balance. It was tasty and fairly refreshing beer but I found that it lacked balance. There was too much hop action going on that it overwhelmed what malt backbone there was. Others have really enjoyed this beer because of the big hop profile and normally this would be something that I would be looking for too but with this beer it doesn't quite pull it off.
Wye Not or Wild Hop?
Wye Not for me.