Beer of the Week

Five Things About … James Squire Tall Tale Tropicana Spring Ale

1) Fruit going into beer is usually better than fruit flavour going into beer. Or, to be more accurate fruit “flavour”. Because that’s usually how the brewery describes it on the label when they release the latest el blando lager with lime, lemon or whatever other kind of syrup they pour into it at the last second before bottling. As “flavours”, because it’s not as if real fruit has come anywhere near the beer.

2) And because that flavour syrup is whacked in at the very end – or at least it tastes like it is – the flavours never really combine with the beer. Instead, they sit on top; like you’re sucking on a lemon lolly while drinking beer. And who the hell wants to suck on a lemon lolly while drinking beer.

3) So it was with trepidation that I faced up to James Squire’s newie Tall Tale. It’s called a “Tropicana Spring Ale” that features guava and passionfruit pulp. Though, curiously, there’s no mention of that on the label. I only knew about it because my review samples came with a press release that mentioned it. Maybe they want people to think the fruit flavours come from the hops?

4) But I needn’t have fretted. I don’t know what stage they added that pulp (though if I had to pick a time I’d say at the end), it doesn’t taste like a last-minute addition. Rather than floating on top of the beer, it melds itself into the beer. The passionfruit flavours are dominate and their tartness and sharpness made me think a little of a Marlborough sauvignon blanc. Come summer time, this will be a good beer on a warm day.

5) You might have trouble finding it though. Aside from being on tap at the Squire pubs, the only other place you can get it is via the Lion online site Mocu. That would likely mean a lot of people will never know this beer exists, because most people look for beer in bottle shops, not online. Who knows, maybe they’re testing the market ahead of a wider launch at some stage down the line.

Free or paid for?: I got two free bottles from the PR company. Two days after I bought a six-pack online. So it’s fortunate for me that I like this beer.

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