In the spirit of Private Eye, I’ve got an apology to make.
I may in the past have given the impression that pale, hoppy beer was not my kind of thing. When I suggested that certain brewers were “taking British beer up a flowery, lemony, smoky dead end”, and made comments such as “roll on the malt backlash”, this may have led readers to believe that I had a strong preference for tawny and malty beers. My tasting notes, in particular, may have given readers the impression that my favourite beers had “a rich mouth-filling flavour combining bitterness and fruit and a great big slug of malt”; this description contrasts with my verdict on Pictish Citra, for example, which merited the enthusiastic description “not really my kind of thing as such, but very well executed”.
I now realise that… oh, I can’t keep this up. The thing is, I’ve had a change of mind, or heart, or palate. Those pale hoppy beers? I get them. I see what they’re doing now. More to the point, I enjoy what they’re doing now (well, most of the time).
I owe it all to the Marble Brewery – and to the eponymous Beerhouse, whose staff have selflessly persisted in letting me order pale and hoppy beer for a decade now. My first turning point came when the Manchester Twissup visited the brewery last October, and we were served halves of bottled Dobber (I’d never really liked it, but it would have been churlish to refuse). Reader, I got it; I even went back for the other half. Then there was Marble Lagonda IPA, Dark Star APA, Holt’s IPA…
And then there was Marble Utility 6 IPA, on draught at the Stockport Beer & Cider Festival. (Which seems to have a bigger And Cider section every year – the only problem being that I’m more of an obsessive beer-ticker every year, & haven’t managed to fit in any cider the last two festivals I’ve been to.) I’ve always had a problem with the hoppier American IPAs, and I’ve always had a problem with the full-on “more hops, vicar?” approach that characterises all the paler Marble beers, so I’m not sure why I went for this – but I’m glad I did. Big dry flavour. Big dry smoky flavour. Big long dry smoky… you get the picture. It was fantastic.
Then the other day I had a half of Magic Rock Curious (not so much “hop-forward in the modern style” as “hops smacking you about the face, in the style of a demented alcoholic Tango advert”) – it was great. It’s all good. Pictish, Thornbridge, Summer Wine, Buxton – bring ’em on. Pale beer is OK by me.
(The only downside is that my tasting notes are now basically useless, even as an aide-memoire for myself. Maybe I’ll just replace them with a page saying “Any bitter: This beer is nice in its own way.”)