Artesans Maians: Espiga Blond Ale (Spain: Golden Ale: 4.5% ABV)

Visual: Hazy yellow blond. An inch of white head.

Nose: Grapefruit. Shortbread. Mandarin orange. Pink grapefruit. Pineapple. Crisp hops.

Body: Tart. Vanilla and cream. Moderate bitterness and hop character. Pink grapefruit. Just slightly gritty feel, but generally smooth. Mandarin orange.

Finish: Soft pink grapefruit and mandarin orange. Light cream. Solid bitterness and hop character. Light raspberry.

Conclusion: Ok, that is a lot of hops for a blond ale. A heck of a lot more than I expected, and bringing with it a good level of bitterness as well. Not a challenging level of bitterness, not super high, just more than I would have expected based on the style.

It comes in very fresh with that as well – working tart fruit in a grapefruit and orange style, with a fairly big bitterness to match those tart flavours. It sure as heck doesn’t feel like a traditional blond ale – with the hop level if feels IPA influenced, but the gentle blond ale base is still under there. It has a soft, milky and creamy character with a slight buttery shortbread feel. It is there, but with the high level of hops you won’t see much of it. It is nice to know it is there though, and it does give a solid base for the rest to work from. Generally fairly smooth, but occasionally a grittier touch rises, I presume from the hops.

It is very enjoyable – but doesn’t quite win my heart as it feels trapped between the two styles it is influenced by. The mass of hops works a lot better with an IPA base, and because of those hops it doesn’t really make the best of the blond ale base. Even I as a huge hop head has to admit beers don’t have to be all about the hops all the time. However, being torn between two worlds doesn’t make it a bad beer – it still pushes a lot of the tart fruit notes while keeping a suitable soft blond base – it is getting something new out of the deal.

So, a very good beer, not super special, but has a very good set of flavours to be had in the midst of a drinking session to revitalise without being too harsh.

Background: A beer from Spain! Beer trying to grab some from Spain in a while, I hear they have a pretty good craft scene going on at the moment. Yes that is mainly the reason I grabbed this from Independent Spirit, but since I grabbed it I found it out in it in the top one percentile by style on ratebeer – so has a damn good rep it seems. If I remember rightly it is also gluten free if that stuff is of use to you. Anyway, drink while listening to some more Miracle Of Sound, just before heading out to Germany for my recent holiday.

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