Summer Wine: Aoraki Red IPA (England: Amber Ale: 7.4% ABV)

Visual: Caramel to toffee brown colour with large tight bubbled head which is off white and leaves solid sud rings at it descends.

Nose: Mango and peach. Crème Brule. Stewed apples.

Body: Good bitterness. Pine needles. Pineapple and grapefruit. Sour sweets. Robust hops. Caramel. Hop oil. Cinder toffee.

Finish: Bitter and hops. Hop oils and resin. Cinder toffee.

Conclusion: It was about half way through this I realised I had encountered Summer Wine Brewery before.  The style of this keg beer is very different to their cask efforts I had previously tried.

This is a hop oil and pine cone fresh and bitter beer. Initially that bitterness and a bit of fresh citrus fruit hops is all that I managed to discern.  As the beer went on though I detected a hard edged cinder toffee element and toffee sweetness that started pushing through. A while longer and cinder toffee seemed to dominate the finish.

It is a much needed element to the beer, grounding it and adding a bit of spice amongst the solid bitter hop kick. In a way it reminds me of a fresher edge Hops Kill ?. The fruit here is more open and the sweetness, at least initially, seems less heavy.  In comparison it is a lighter beer, but only in comparison. It still kicks like a mule , though with graceful fruit flavours.  The lighter fruit especially works well to offset the heavier flavours.

It doesn’t always do this perfectly, the finish can get a bit heavy and cloying after a while. The cinder toffee pushes through a bit much and seems also to affect the clarity of the hop flavours.  A pity as early on the freshness of the beer is note perfect.

At a half I think I had the right amount and even then it may have benefited from being shared.  It rocked early to mid drink but wore out its welcome as it was reaching the end.  Still a beer worth a try I would say.  Maybe share with mates as suggested before, or match with some heavy duty food to balance it.  Not perfect, and needs so work to best appreciate but has a good dose of flavour to it.

Background: Drunk at Brewdog Bristol. Mainly because I liked the name, which by a bit of googling seems to be the highest mountain in New Zealand. You learn something new every day. Because of that and the flavours I’m guessing it has heavy use of NZ hops. I was debating about if I should put in under IPA, Amber Ale or Imperial Red Ale, but its similarity to Hops Kill made me eventually plump for Amber Ale. Summer Wine Brewery beers I’ve had on cask a few times, None have really jumped out at me but they have been pleasant, though tending towards being better in halves than pints.