Bristol Beer Factory: Bitter Californian (England: Bitter: 4.5% ABV)

Visual: A slightly ruddy amber with loose caramel bubbles.

Nose: Grapefruit. Gooseberry and hops. Dried apricot. Fresh mint leaves.

Body: Lightly bitter but grows into a heavier version. Bark. Some toffee. Grapefruit. Big dried apricot at the back. Light leaves.

Finish: Reasonably growing hops. Nettles. Light citrus lime. Fudge. Lemongrass. Slight lemon.

Conclusion: A game of two halves here. The first sips seemed too light and slightly weak. The bitterness was present but not much else. The build up is slow, but does bring out the American hops. The citrus notes are present, though oddly the flavours that the advertised seem much more present in aroma and finish than mid body.   Like Acer it is doing a take on the standard bitter but with real hop freshness keeping it lively (Talking of the Acer, I tried that again after this, and it seemed far superior to previous samplings – wonder if they have tweaked that recently).

Also worth noting is that their description mentioned a taste of kaffir lime leaves, not something I could claim to have tried. However there is a very interesting sharp greenery touch in it that I would guess is that element. A very interesting element and probably the most promising part of this beer.

The beer as a whole is not fantastic, but when you get into it does have a reasonable amount of flavour.  The match of American hops to best bitter doesn’t quite mesh, seeming like two separate elements that show themselves at different times rather than an integrated beer.  That said it does seem like a relaxing counterpoint to Acer. Acer is all fresh and sharp, whilst this seems like a herbal tea of a beer. Very soothing with subtle flavours.  Overall nice, but I think could do with a bit more presence of flavour up front to bring it up to where it should be as a beer.

Background: A one off beer from the Bristol Beer Factory so when I spotted it in Bath I had to give it a try. A mix of English malts and American hops. It was first drunk during a social with my Capoeira group. At the end of that time I felt I had not quite paid enough attention to it, so I returned later for another half to round out the review. Both days it was nicely sunny yet cool, which let to a pleasant drinking environment. Drunk at “The Market” which is a place. No really. As seen in the photo despite being a cask ale ( I presume, I don’t think BBF do keg)  they did not use the traditional hand pumps at this bar, an oddity for the UK.