Pink Elephant: Mammoth (New Zealand: English Strong Ale:7% ABV)

Visual: Deep blackcherry to red. Lace leaving slightly rouge froth.

Nose: Lightly bitter hops. Lemon. Some raspberries. Cinnamon. Some earthy hop. Sour cherry sweets.

Body: Smooth. Earthy for the main body, with raspberries underneath. Creamy and robust. Strawberry hints. Slight sour grapes.

Finish: Hops. Earth and bubblegum. Digestives. Peppery. Cake sponge.

Conclusion: A robust little big ale this one. Like Emerson’s IPA it is surprisingly earthy in hops for an NZ beer. This one however adds a big wodge of character to it, with subtle raspberry freshness and strawberry notes underneath. Even in the aroma the mix of tartness and earthy hops is enticing.

Main body brings it home with a smooth creamy texture. Here the bitter hops are given grip, but you never have to dig beer to let the understated fruitiness well up.  It is easy to let the thick earthy hops sit on your tongue, but please, roll this beer around and let the fresh fruit out as that is all it takes to turn this from a solid but dull body and make it quite the intricate beer expression.  That little change makes it such an enjoyable beer.

If I may linger on this point a while longer, it is probably that fact that a bit of investigation is required to enjoy the beer that really makes it stand out.  It is a simple challenge to seek out the extra flavour, and it rewards you quickly, but that interaction makes it very satisfying when it opens up, more so than if it did so uninvited.

The explored beer feels like a very grounded dessert, like someone has dumped raspberries on rye crackers. In a good way. If that makes sense.

It will never be the most showy beer, but the combinations of elements feel new and unusual, and it rolls out from that into a solid bitter finish. It is an understated gem in my eyes. I’m not sure if it will appeal similarly to everyone, and some may view it as merely decent, but this beer has definitely caught my fancy.

Background: Ok, rate beer says this is a brown ale, but Michael Jackson called it Strong Ale and the hop character puts it closer to English Strong Ale than American. Darn beer styles can be confusing.  As you can probably guess from that, this is one of the beers from Michael Jackson Great Beer Guide.  It’s another I owe thanks to my sister for as she brought it back from New Zealand for me.  Yay, thanks sis.