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12-04-2016, 09:35
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You know, the type that’s very pale but still has a bit of body… It’s not just about hops… But it’s definitely got hops. Yeah, you could call it balanced, but there’s a problem with that…On our recent trip up North, without really trying, we stumbled upon a few examples of this which might, we’re beginning to think, be our favourite very specific, hard-to-pin-down type of beer.
Marble’s Manchester Bitter — currently tasting good in both bottle and on cask, by the way — is a pretty good example. It’s not like a bunch of flowers being shoved in your face but nor is it a miserable old bowl of soggy cornflakes. It’s somewhere in between. It tastes zesty, fruity, fresh*and very bitter, but it’s not*‘Like drinking bloody grapefruit juice.’ Which leaves space for the actual*flavour of malt — the bread-nuts-cracker chewiness that isn’t just a backdrop or a base but a pleasure in its own right.
So, that’s actually balanced, right, in a positive sense? The constituent ingredients are each allowed to express themselves fully, with none overpowering the rest.
We did a bad doodle*that might or might not help:
Number 1 is your grapefruit beer — a delight in its own way*but ultimately one-dimensional. Number 2 is what we think of when we read*‘golden ale’ these days — it might be yellow but only in a sense of the absence of brown; it’s sweet, bland, balanced like an empty see-saw. And number 3 is what we’re into right now — a nice bit of engineering, but nothing flamboyant.
In Liverpool, we had Okell’s IPA (4.5% ABV) which we’d put into this category,*though we suspect they think it’s a Number 1 – ‘Said to be hoppier than a hopping mad hopi’. And,*in Manchester, at the Piccadilly Tap, Northern Monk Brew Co’s True North (3.7%) struck us as another example, as satisfying as a fresh roll ten minutes out of the oven. Down in Cornwall, Penzance Brewing Co Potion No. 9 fits the bill. (St Austell Proper Job, while hardly over-the-top, is biased towards hops over malt.)
We’re not arguing that this is a distinct style that needs a name or anything but it’s a*thing we know when we encounter it.
Any others spring to mind?
That Type of Cask Ale…. You Know the One (http://boakandbailey.com/2016/04/type-cask-ale-know-one/) from Boak & Bailey's Beer Blog - Beer blogging since 2007, covering real ale, craft beer, pubs and British beer history. (http://boakandbailey.com)

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