Monday 18 August 2014

Beer Tasting: Fourpure IPA

If I were to give a Most Improved Beer award for the year to date, it would go to Fourpure IPA. When this beer first hit the shelves last November it was fairly pedestrian stuff. The original batches were somewhat jammy and bready, the hop character a bit leafy and piney. It was OK beer but it wasn't exciting.

Last week I got a few freshly-packaged cans and, wow, this beer has improved dramatically. Where the aroma was once muted and simplistic, it's now juicy and vibrant, with a dynamic citrus fruit character. The flavor follows along well with the malts now playing a supporting role (they were more of a lead back in the day) and the hops just singing out. There's lot of juicy grapefruit and tangerine, some bitter pine, light oils, and a clean mineral edge that cuts things off well, leaving you with a grassy, lightly floral finish. It's quite a wonderful beer. I'm blown away by the improvement. (Score: 4.1/5.0)

I really have to hand it to the Fourpure guys. According to them, they haven't changed the recipe dramatically since the first batches came out, but have instead improved their brewing practices and processing to better utilize the hops. I'm happy to say their efforts have paid off tremendously.

A fellow beer geek recently compared Fourpure IPA favourably to Ballast Point Sculpin, which is extremely high praise for an IPA, especially when it comes from a guy like Andy Parker, who's tasted (and brewed) his share of IPAs. (Ballast Point is a San Diego-based brewery and their Sculpin is widely regarded as one of the finest examples of the IPA style.) I would agree with Andy that this beer is well on its way to greatness.

Well played, Fourpure. Keep up the good work.

Friday 1 August 2014

Beer Tasting: Five Points Pale

In the glass today is Five Points Pale, a 4.4% beer brewed with amarillo, centennial and citra hops. Five Points, based up in Hackney, has a tight core range consisting of this pale ale, a porter, a red ale, and a recently-launched IPA. They have also put out an experimental brett porter, which was quite good.

I've had this beer twice before, once from cask and once from bottle, and each time I enjoyed it. This bottle today, though, doesn't fire on all cylinders. It pours mostly clear gold with a frothy, white head. The nose holds a bit of citric orange, some grainy pale malts, dirty hay, wet leaves. The flavor is lightly sweet with pale bread, bitter grain husks, slight grass, orange rind, more hay. It's light bodied with fine, almost soft carbonation; the condition seems slightly wanting. Further gritty bitterness to finish, some astringency, hints of wood and grass, rindy citrus, some soggy white bread. The astringency lingers on the back of the tongue. There could be a bit of over-extraction in here or something. Overall it's still drinkable stuff, but given previous experience with this beer I expect more. (Score: 2.8/5.0)

Bottle came in a mixed case of beers from London breweries, from new online retailer London Beer.