And so I get bottles from Magic Rock Brewery, one or two of which I have already dissected here — but here I am again sitting at the kitchen table and this time enjoying a glass of their High Wire. American Pale Ale with a nod to the West Coast it seems like to me. And I sit there drinking it and thinking that it reminds me of something else. The nose has a flourish of passion fruit cheesecake, scented, slightly risqué in its creaminess, as well as a musty dustiness that reminds me of the smell when my son’s wet suit is hanging up to dry (ozone perhaps, brininess); or maybe — a thought strikes me — it’s more like a stable (formerly stacked with dry hay) through which a wet dog has passed through. Don’t blink: it’s a pleasant aroma, providing a thought-provoking contrast between the kids’ tea party giggle-fest of the passion fruit and its friend the cheesecake with the more grown up seriousness of the space in which something wet is placed (or has passed through). The passion fruit cheesecake note is also on the palate along with a sensuous oily character; this makes for a full beer, a big body of flavour, though then there are sherberty, sweet notes that help to keep any inclinations towards obesity in the mouth under control. As well: orange marmalade, oh, lightly toasted white bread with a thin skin of marmalade, oh again, not orange but pink grapefruit. Breakfast anyone? The finish is dry and appetising with passion fruit notes making a welcome return. It’s a deeply satisfying beer, robust in its flavour. This is what I would call artisanal — I am deeply satisfied by the flavour — it’s why I drink and keep company with beer.
And so then I try the beer that High Wire reminds me of. The passion fruit is on the nose again, but then it feels like this passion fruit fancies slumming it as a mango and then loses its dignity completely by turning into a scented tropical fruit salad. Ripe fruits, I’m reminded of, ripe fruits sitting in the fruit bowl brushed and caressed by the sun of a late summer’s day. This other beer that I thought High Wire reminded me of is brighter on the nose than High Wire, but not as sultry perhaps; brasher, noisier, a celebrity with pretensions to intellectualism perhaps (Joey Barton?). There’s a spritzy tingle on the palate, a feel that has the light covering of pink grapefruit and again that ripeness from the nose. But hark, what is this, some vegetal notes Barton their way into the background (broccoli water perhaps?) and then it fades away too quickly. It’s inoffensive, has a quick finish, acceptable but I like High Wire for its robustness, its swagger and general sense of style.
And when I mention the closeness of High Wire to Stuart at the brewery he confirms what I thought and says that it was based on this beer, but as it was not as it is. I suspect you can guess what the beer is.