1) Even though you didn’t ask, I’ll tell you anyway. Reviewing a beer isn’t the same as drinking a beer. When you’ve got a beer that you need to review, it means really paying attention to it. You can’t just go “oh, this has some nice aromas”, you’ve actually got to come up with an explanation of what it smells like. And that goes for when you’re description the malt characters as well. You can’t just say “it’s malty”. Derr, of course it fricking is. That’s like describing hop aromas as “hoppy”. Not good enough.
2) And you’ve got to be thinking about the beer all the way to the bottom of the glass, because beers can change character as they warm up. It’s a very different process from just drinking and enjoying a beer. Which is really the way most people approach beer – as a part of a broader social occasion or event. When you’re reviewing a beer, it becomes the whole event.
3) This is why, when I get review samples it’s great when a brewery sends me more than one bottle. I totally get why some only send one – it’s all money out of their pocket, and I’m cool with that. When people send you free beer, you don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. But I love getting more than one – especially when it’s a good beer – because it means I have a second bottle to simply sit back and enjoy. And when you already know how good a beer it is, it makes the sitting back and enjoying all the more enjoyable.
4) Which brings me to the guys at Murray’s, who went massively above and beyond by sending me a whole case of beer, split up into six-packs of four of their beers. For the record, that’s their XPA, Gardenia double IPA , Ginni Hendrix pale ale (their 2018 GABS beer) and the annual Wild Thing, which is this time a whisky imperial stout. And the case came with a printed warning not to drink some of them for a few weeks to allow for full can-conditioning. Never had a beer sample sent out with that caveat – it really made me think these beers must have been taken straight off the canning line and posted out to me.
5) My favourite of the four is the Wild Thing, which surprised me. It’s been aged on whisky barrel staves, and I had a scarring experience with whisky in my younger years which has forever sworn me off the stuff. So I approached this with trepidation. But there’s not a huge amount of whisky characters – just some on the hose – which was a blessed sigh of relief. The beer throws a massive dark chocolate aroma, which I could smell while the glass was on the table next to me. The flavour is of dark chocolate with a lick of coffee, and there are enough hops here to balance out the big malt bill. And it needed to be big to get it to 10 per cent. Yet that balance is so good that it doesn’t feel like a big, boozy 10 percenter. It’s a great beer, and just in time for winter.
Free or paid for? All 24 cans were sent to me free of charge. Which still makes me happy when I think about it. A whole case of tasty beer – wow!
Categories: Beer of the Week