Electric Bear: Cradle Of Filth: Pale Countess (England: American Pale Ale: 4.5% ABV)

Visual: Hazy, dark lemon juice. An inch or so of mounded white head.

Nose: Lemon juice to jiff lemon. Grapefruit. Crisp, lightly fluffy hop bitterness. Light vanilla. Fresh crusty white bread. Peach skin.

Body: Peach. Good bitterness. Crusty white bread. Slightly dry. Grapefruit.

Finish: Dry hop bitterness. Flour. Crusty white bread. Fairly high bitterness in general. Subtle apricot. Light lemon juice.

Conclusion: So, as I’m sure I have discussed innumerable times before, APAs can be a bit hit or miss for me. The comparatively lower abv means that they tend towards the drier, more attenuated end of the spectrum, which can make the hop usage kind of rough, while not paying off the same hop’s flavour promise.

However, done right that dryness can make for a dangerously drinkable beer, that shocks the taste-buds with a hop kick at the end. By this point you are probably shouting at me ot get on with it and tell you which of the two sides this falls into. Well, this one is definitely closer to the good side of things.

YAYZ!

Yeah, I drew that out a bit.

So, it is fairly dry, really encourages drinking then punishes you with bitterness. Highly hopped, but despite the high hop usage it distinctly a pale ale rather than an IPA – even the dryness is different to a dry west coast IPA. That has a very out of the way, dry malt character, while this gives a lot of grip to the ever present bitterness.

What makes it work is the use of the subtle but well picked hop fruity flavours. Subtle grapefruit tartness help keep it drinkable despite the bitterness. Occasional light peach sweetness gives release from that same bitterness and dry lemon notes ties it all to the dryness of the base beer. Everything is just what is needed to take what could have been a harsh beer and made it much more suitable.

It is solid, well balanced with what could easily have been too heavy bitterness. It doesn’t shout “Cradle Of Filth” but when do tie in beers ever really make you think of the musician that much?

Electric Bear have definitely upped their game since last time I did notes on their stuff.

Background: Ok, most important things first – this has the marking of “Order of the Flagon” on it. I have no idea what that is. I did some googling and got a bunch of roleplaying game links, natch, and one that was a Cradle Of Filth beer glass. So it s linked to Cradle Of Filth. Which I kind of already knew, what with this being a Cradle Of Filth beer. Which I possibly should have mentioned earlier. Yeah a beer made in collaboration with Cradle Of Filth. Cool. The brewer is Electric Bear, a Bath based brewery that I wasn’t much impressed with back when I first encountered them, however I’ve been to their tap-house a few times since then, and their beers have improved greatly. Hopefully this will continue the trend. For music there was of course only one band I could go with – Garbage! Their self titled album to be exact. What? Garbage are awesome. Anyway, another one grabbed from Independent Spirit.