“Wetherspoon’s sells canned craft beer from a fridge”
Say it out loud around a dedicated CAMRA member who wears socks with his sandals and just watch the sparks fly and the eyes swivel.
JD Wetherspoon has made a big deal of their launch of a range of canned craft beers from New York City brewery Sixpoint. It’s all over their free magazine and comes hand in hand with a two for a fiver offer on other craft beers (Goose Island IPA and BrewDog Punk IPA among them) and I could honestly not think of anything more likely to get a real ale purist furious than this article’s opening sentence.
Fond as I am of introducing felines to pigeons, I’ve hunted out this particular big cat with a vengeance.
My local ‘Spoons serves Bengali Tiger in a tulip glass, which is a good choice of glassware in this reporter’s opinion. The first time I drank it, scant days post-launch, I was given a pint glass with the can and it just looked wimpy in there.
On a slow pour from its 355ml can (stylishly and cleanly branded) the drinker is faced with a pleasant golden India Pale Ale with a rugged head of about a centimetre, which seems to strain at the reins. Indeed, a quicker pour leads to quite a bubbly, radgie head that has a good crack at the walls of the glass before realising it’s not going to escape and settling down.
I couldn’t decide if the beer’s nose seemed a little suppressed by the frigid temperature at which it was served or not, but the brewers would clearly have known they were brewing for a refrigerated serve and I’m sure they factored this in. Bottom line, the nose is floral with wispy grass notes. It’s not as “fresh bag of weed” dank as IPAs such as BrewDog’s Punk and Hardcore IPAs, and is quite subtle. After sitting for a few minutes the nose loses some of its initial aggression and becomes a little more malty, while still retaining the grassy (more football pitch than Ziggy Marley concert) aromas.
The first mouthful is crisp and bitter and really catches the back of the throat. I was terrified (slight exaggeration) that this beer would just taste of “cold”, a tendency of many beers served direct from the fridge. There’s a mildly citric tang and something elusive and hard to pin down, perhaps a slightly skewed and tweaked taste of celery.
I expected crazy carbonation from this canned beer but the gas is dialled back tastefully. There’s not even an initial mad minute of rapid-fire fizz before things calm down.
The can’s flavour text asks the drinker to note the stripes left on the glass, the “marks of the tiger” as Sixpoint put it. I didn’t see much in the way of stripes but what I did see was a fine crop of bubbly foam which formed, for a while, a highly appropriate vague approximation of the continent of Africa and a schtickle of the Middle East into the bargain.
Closer to the bottom of the glass the taste remains crisp and expands to some extent. Warm, greenhousey rumbles fill the head-holes and the senses.
The crisp texture becomes more sugary and cloying as we reach the final half inch of the glass. The aftertaste is spicy and floral, with a pleasant bitterness that seems to outlast the flowery ends of the bargain on the tongue.
It doesn’t taste its 6.4% volume, that’s for sure. Sixpoint has shipped a solid IPA over the Atlantic, and you can expect reviews of this Brooklyn outfit’s further three canned Wetherspoon’s beers in the near future from your correspondent.