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14-07-2010, 18:05
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There’s an interesting article in the current issue of Opening Times – the Stockport & South Manchester CAMRA newsletter – by Gazza Prescott on the rise of pale, highly-hopped “mid-Atlantic” pale ales. There’s an extended version on Gazza’s website here (http://www.scoopergen.co.uk/essay_midatlantic.htm).

Now Gazza is well known for his trenchant opinions, but this is an enthusiastic and readable survey of the development of this particular beer style. I have praised the likes of Oakham JHB and Thornbridge Jaipur (http://pubcurmudgeon.blogspot.com/2010/06/bargain-of-year.html) on here before. It’s a bit much to say “Pale’n’hoppy beers are slowly taking over the beer culture of the UK”, although he does acknowledge that it is a phenomenon largely confined to specialist beer pubs. There isn’t much sign of these beers “going mainstream”. Realistically it is just adding another colour to the palette of British beer styles – I can’t really see them replacing the traditional balanced bitters in the general run of pubs.

It’s probably also fair to say that these beers are the beer world’s equivalent of highly-peated malt whiskies such as Laphroiag and Talisker – very well-respected, but too much biased towards one extreme end of the flavour spectrum to appeal to many people as a regular tipple. You might well enjoy one or two during an evening’s sampling of a variety of beers, but few would want to drink them all night.

It should be said that there is a marked difference between the kind of intensely hoppy beers Gazza is talking about and those “gold” beers with an insipid, floral hoppiness than can so easily become wishy-washy, which is what I was complaining about here (http://curmudgeoncolumns.blogspot.com/2010/04/april-2010.html).

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