Eight Degrees: Sunburnt (Ireland: Irish Ale: 5% ABV)

Visual: Hazy caramel to red with a cloudy centre. Moderate fluffy brown head.

Nose: Lots of malt chocolate and toffee. Cashew nuts. Slightly roasted. Milky coffee. Slight cinnamon. Orange.

Body: Slight roasted character. Malt chocolate. Kiwi. Soft orange to choc orange. Mild malt loaf. Strawberry.

Finish: Crushed peanuts. Malt chocolate and toffee. Slight roasted character. Slight chalk touch. Choc orange. Slightly dry. Milky coffee. Slight minty menthol. Strawberry.

Conclusion: Normally I find Irish red ales a bit too dry and roasted for my tastes. I like the idea of them but the implementation can be a bit too drying and harsh for me. This, therefore was a welcome beer in blowing that complaint clear out of the water.

This has some of those dry, roasted, nutty notes and it definitely leads out with a dry nuttiness, however it is far from defined by that. Instead this has a very solid toffee core of sweetness that mixes up the style. It rises up mid body, but then eases out at the tail end, into the finish and lets the dryness come back – this makes the dry moments much more manageable and also makes them more an enjoyable and distinct element when they do arrive. Above that small, but critical change to the beer there is also more flavour brought in by that thicker core – you get soft orange, light kiwi and sweet strawberry – all that would look out of place in an overly dry beer.

You end up with a beer that uses the drier red ale style, but isn’t dominated by it. The sweetness is present, but grounded by a very milky coffee character that mixes with it in the middle. The hops bring flavour, but it doesn’t go high on bitterness, nor rely on the hop flavours – it just uses them as subtle enhancement to turn this into a satisfying sipping ale.

So, pretty mellow and easy drinking. A good twist on the style but doesn’t abandon it. Solid.

Background: This is the second to last beer from the Honest Brew‘s set that a friend gave me for my birthday. Many thanks! Don’t know much about Eight Degrees brewing – so this is a new one on me – interesting times! This was drunk after seeing Goodfellas on the big screen, which was a hell of an experience. Broke out some Iron Maiden for drinking music as well.

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