Kettlesmith: Outline (England: Amber Ale: 3.8% ABV)
Visual: Caramel to amber. Clear, just slightly hazy body. Creamy middling sized brown froth for a head that leaves suds.
Nose: Peach and peach syrup. Dried apricot. Love heart sweets. Crushed nachos. Caramel. Buttery shortbread.
Body: Light bitterness. Toffee. Orange chocolate malt drinks. Buttery shortbread. Strawberry. Hop prickle. Lime jelly. Cake sponge and light sugar dusting. Apricot.
Finish: Nutty. Light hop character. Slight sugared almonds. Lightly roasted. Light peach. Lime jelly. Pine needles and slightly resinous.
Conclusion: Ok, we have here a beer of 3.8% – the ABV of generic boredom! Or so it was years back, and for decades before that. In recent years though, well that is now pretty much out of the window. In recent times 3.8% seems to be having a resurgence as the abv used for craft brewers looking to make their perfect session ale. Just strong enough that they can can pull some weight with it. Low enough to drink easily if you get it right. Which is the important part, if it is done right. It not you end up back at bland and generic.
So is this well done? Yep, this is very well done indeed. Ok, you can skip the rest of the notes now I’ve said that. Still here? Ok, cool. What makes this even better is that, unlike a lot of the 3.8%ers, they don’t use a huge mass of hops to get around the lighter malt load. Nope this is a malt driven session ale. Now I have nothing against hops, quite the opposite, I love the damn things. However I do like something that goes against the grain and that is what this does.
It is lightly fruity on the nose, fresh peach and other bright fruit, but even then the malt shows its hand with a sense of the caramel malt sweetness to come. The body is gentle, like a malt drink, with carefully used hop prickle and rounding fruit to back it up. Late on it feels like a soothing chocolate drink, but without the weight that would put it into nightcap beer territory. Finally it goes out with a lightly roasted character, filled with hints of everything that came before. Satisfying and long lasting, but gentle so not to become wearing over a session.
While not quite at the level to earn the “my favourite” tag, it isn’t far off it. It is not just that it is well made, but also that it is creatively made, without needing to resort to special or unusual ingredients. There is so much in there, nothing heavy, but fruit, sweetness, toffee, roasted notes, all gently balanced in a beer to kick back and relax with.
Big malt flavour without needing a big malt load. Bloody amazing.
Background: Another fairly local brewery that seems to have popped up recently – I have been drinking many odd and unusual beers recently, so decided to make a concerted effort to go for something with just the yeast, water, malt and hops. So, yeah, grabbed this from Independent Spirit for drinking. Drank while listening to B. Dolan – House Of Bees volume 2. Worth it just for the back to back two of “Film The Police” and “Which Side Are You On?”. Never was into rap/hip hop when I was younger, but the whole socially conscientious hip hop I’ve been introduced to is awesome.