Wednesday 25 June 2014


Two beer styles, poles apart, one is a saison blended with a gueuze, the other a double IPA — I drink one after the other, not fast, not slow, just drink, no notes, few thoughts, just pleasure. But, when I finish the double IPA I wonder about a connection between the two beers and I think about how that for many beer drinkers these two beer styles are not pleasing, not pleasure, prodding the palate a bit too much, not beer even. Gueuze, for instance, took me some time to get used to; back in the 1990s, when I first met the beer, I used to add a sugar lump or two to a glass, sweetened it, befriended it, spoilt it you might say. This practice, this sweet-toothed, tub-thumping destruction of a beer, this perceived failure of mine, came to an end as I persevered and the beer became a friend minus the sugar lump. No such doubts came along with the double IPA, though I’m not too sure when I first had one, was it Moor’s JJJ, or was it Sierra Nevada’s Torpedo or was it someone else? My palate was already poised to resinous noise through the bright bustle of IPA, but does that mean to enjoy a double IPA you have to have gone through the world of IPA first? And still I’m trying to make a connection between these two beer styles, which on first and second glance (and probably third) is a hopeless quest, but I’m still trying. Maybe it’s the beers’ expressions on the palate, the complexities I picked up without really trying (because don’t forget I was drinking not thinking), the contrapuntal motion between various flavour notes and moods in the mouth feel, the sprightly chime of light grapefruit brightness against an appetising tartness in the saison/gueuze blend, the buzzsaw of hop character, resin, deep, deep ripe orange skin against a bracing, bittersweet malt-influenced backbone of the double IPA, maybe that is the connection. To me (now) they are not difficult beers, but to others they could be, which then leads me onto another thought, what on earth is a difficult beer, is there such a thing? That is a thought for another day.

The two beers were Partizan’s Cuvee, which brewer Andy gave me the other week, and Bristol Beer Factory’s Double IPA, which they sent me last week (both exemplary beers).

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