Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Beer Review no.1: Hades Belgian Style Ale; Great Divide Brewing Co. (Denver, Colorado))

There's a myth that ale is an old mans drink.  This is something that's perpetuated by any footage you see of the large beardy men in control of CAMRA (I intend to be large and am often beardy so don't take this the wrong way) and young codgers like James May.  I think this is pretty unfair.  One fifty-something who should no better - you know who you are - has repeatedly told me he doesn't like to drink ale 'because it tastes of fart'.  How rude.  On the other hand almost all my friends are ale drinkers and I think this is indicative of a wider trend.  Ale fits perfectly into the current interest in traditional British products, provenance, local buying and all of the other trends which have been mercifully rescued from the sandals and socks brigade.  The Germans, Belgians and Czechs have lager and wheat beers, the French, Spanish and Italians have wine, we have ale.  This item won't just look at ales or British beer, but I would like them to be a focus.  So it is with regret that I kick of my beer reviews with an example made by our cousins from across the pond, where micro-brewing is as cool as Lilly Cole buying a Rothko and has exploded way past our still endangered, if growing scene.

'HADES is a Belgian golden ale brewed with a rare Belgian yeast strain
that gives a complex spicy flavor and aroma. Noticeable hops and a
medium malty character make it a very well balanced crisp ale'... apparently.
The beer under review is Hades, a Belgian style ale brewed by the Great Divide Brewing Company, in Denver, Colorado.  It was a silver medalist in the European Beer Star, Nurenberg 2008, and in the top 25 beers listed by in 2007, its also claims to go well with with mussels and artisan cheeses, which is useful, I suppose.   It's an extremely rich, flavour packed beer with some sweetness and a powerful bitter kick.  At 7.8% it packs a real punch. It's too big for an all day beer but definitely delivers for a glass or two.  For something that, with all that alcohol and sweetness, is in reality a heavy beer it's nearly blond characteristics do a good job  of tricking you into thinking its light.   Its got some subtlety too after its stopped hitting you round the mouth.  The hops initially seem to stay in the background, but there is a lot of flavour from them but the bitterness stops you realising straight away - once you get used to that though big hop flavor lingers long past the initial bitterness. There's some  spices on the nose,  and a definite hit of orange peel.  All in all a good beer, but though its more subtle than it seems I would have liked the hops to be more dominant up front and more nuanced in the finish with a bit more crispness.  Criticism aside though, this is definitely one to try when you want a real assault on the senses.  With its sweet, bitter, flavored straight off the bat, its a real bomb.

£2.80 from Utobeer, Borough Market

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