Burning Sky: Liberty Brewing: Descent Into The Maelstrom (England: American Pale Ale: 6.66% ABV)
Visual: Cloudy lemon juice. Small white head.
Nose: Pineapple juice and coconut. Dried banana. Orange juice. Tropical fruit juice. Smooth.
Body: Tart white grapes. Pineapple juice. White wine. Coconut. Dried apricot. Light nettles and hop oils. Peach. Light cloying touch.
Finish: Light wood. Coconut. Moderate bitterness and hop character. Tart grapes sheen. White wine. Pink grapefruit. Dry.
Conclusion: Now this one really shows the New Zealand side of the rainbow collaboration – lots of tart fruit hop action with the base dry and mostly out of the way. You do get a recognisably dry pale ale character and accompanying bitterness in the finish, but the main body is fruity all the way.
The main, high concept pitch for this, if I had to give one, would be a beery pina colada. Lots of coconut notes laden through a pineapple fruit juice base beer. Then that carefully layered over the aforementioned pale ale bitter finish. It doesn’t just do that and rest on its laurels though, oh no. It brings slight tart grapes and pink grapefruit to really let the tart character shine – the tartness is fresh but far from overwhelming; It keeps gently refreshing rather than goes for sour and puckering.
Considering that the inspiration colour for this beer was orange it is odd that the orange is actually fairly gently used here. Just there at the back. The barrel ageing seems restrained as well – the beer is fairly smooth which often points to the barrel ageing, and there is a definite white wine air, but nothing pushed too hard as to hurt the base beer. Then again, maybe it is just the barrel ageing matches the dominant characteristics so well – it is hard to say.
Very good indeed. It doesn’t quite make the “My Favourite” list, despite the evident quality. The only, tiny thing against it is that it is a very specific beer for a very specific time. Even beyond being a very summer refresher styled beer, you really have to be in the right mind for it. It is not an anytime kind of beer. If you had it too often I feel the charm would fade. That very minor point aside though, this is great. Had occasionally this is dry, refreshing, complex yet easy to drink. A very specific kind of art, but definitely beer art.
Background: Confession time – was convinced that I had done notes on Burning Sky beers before and wasn’t too impressed by them. Turns out the only one I had tried was a collaboration and that was awesome. Awkward. I had been avoiding a brewery for no good reason. Liberty Brewing on the other hand, this is my first encounter. Another in this year’s rainbow project set of beers. Two brewers, from two countries, working together and given a colour for the theme of their beer. This one is “Orange”. Grabbed from Independent Spirit this is made with “Deep breath” orange zest, pink grapefruit, fermented with Belgian yeast, Nelson Sauvin and Motueka hops and aged in a white Burgundy wine cask. Seriously they pull out all the stops for this rainbow series. Drunk while listening to Metallica – Master of Puppets. No link to the beer, just haven’t listened to them for ages.