1) Okay, broadly speaking, I’ve got nothing against the James Squire beers. They’re well made, they don’t taste like nail polish or burnt rubber and they provide a great service as a gateway beer. Scoff if you must but the gateway beer is a crucial thing in the beer world. If you reckon loads of people are going to move from VB straight to an 8 per cent IPA then you are intensely stupid.
2) No, they’re going to do what we all did – take baby steps. Go for something a little more flavoursome than they’re used to but not too much so that it makes them go “jeez, craft beer is shit. Gimme that tallie of VB.” And that’s the wheelhouse James Squire is in – they’re beers that are just a weency bit challenging.
3) I respect Squire beers. I just don’t drink them – well except for the Hop Thief and those limited release Mad Brewer things. But their core range? Well, I can’t remember the last time I had one of them. No, wait, I can. I bought a six-pack of the amber ale and regretted it with the first mouthful from the first bottle.
4) Which is why their new release, a session IPA called Cabin Fever is such a surprise. Because it’s good. And not in a “good for a gateway beer” kind of way, but in a “hey this is a good beer” way. If you’re one of those geeks who refuse to drink Squire because it’s “mainstream swill” or whatever derogatory term you care to employ for any beer made by a big brewery, then you’re going to be missing out on a tasty beer.
5) How good is it? It’s not as biscuity as the dark amber colour would seem. It’s got juicy citrussy flavours with a decent streak of bitterness and a smidge of biscuity flavour. But, really, how good is it? Well, I got sent two sample bottles. I had the first one on Friday night and was quite impressed. On Saturday morning, I put the other bottle in the fridge and then spent most of the day looking forward to the moment I would crack it open.
Free or paid for?: I got two free bottles. And I plan to buy a sixer (or maybe even a case) when it’s released next week.
Categories: Beer of the Week
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