Thursday, December 2, 2010

Custom Brewcrafters English Pale Ale (EPA)

Fresh from my first foray into the world of Custom Brewcrafters beers, I decided to crack open the second variety in my sampler pack.  This one declares itself an 'English-style Pale Ale' - given the fact that I'm a limey myself, I had very high expectations for this one.

As I've explained elsewhere, British ale is a different beast from American beer - it's not carbonated to the same extent, and it has to be pumped from the cask - in fact, if you go to an authentic British pub you'll see the bartender literally 'pulling pints' into your glass.  Ale also tends to be slightly sweet or malty, and in my favourite examples the hops are less prominent, giving way to a whole variety of fruity, spicy or otherwise unusual additions. 

Aroma - Fruit and hop aromas are prominent, but not overpowering like an IPA.  

Appearance - This ale has a deep amber colour, and a cloudy appearance, similarly to my previous encounter with Custom Brewcrafters.  I'm pretty sure now that this is due to bottle-conditioning, a process whereby a little yeast is retained in the bottled product to essentially keep the beer fresh.  As for the head, it was very modest, but it was there - slightly more present than it was with the Scotch Ale.

Taste - A delightful malty hit mellows into a mild hoppy bitterness.  There isn't as much 'oomph' in this beer but that's not a bad thing - a milder or more subtle taste makes for a great session beer, in my view.  These sorts of beers are also usually a better accompaniment to most food, as they won't crowd your palate when you're enjoying that amazing marinara sauce, or swordfish steak, or sushi, get my point. 

Mouthfeel - Like CB's Scotch Ale, very little carbonation is evident.  This is a smooth English-style ale, true to its name. 

Finish - A bitterness lingers, reminding you of the malt in the aroma.  It's not a strong, toasted-barley taste, but a more pleasant, subtle flavour.  Very enjoyable.

I'll give this a 4 out of 5 - it's a very good, solid session beer, which satisfied this Englishman's high standards.  Like I said, I prefer less hopped English ales, which did affect my judgement a bit, but still - I can thoroughly recommend it.

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