The Best of Bitter
…In perhaps a companion blog to my last one (which seemed to banish the sunshine as soon as it was posted – sorry!), I found myself rhapsodising about session beer again on Thursday night, whilst out with a friend. Quantum’s Bitter (3.8%) was the inspiration this time.
I’ve enjoyed Quantum’s beers before; normally single-hopped pales and punchy, vibrant IPA’s. Before Christmas, I shared a gifted prototype Barley Wine with a friend, and it floored me. Deep, rich sweetness and an amazingly floral nose made it the perfect winter warmer – even in such an early stage in it’s life. I understand that beer is on sale now (it was brewed with Colin Stronge whilst he was at Marble) and I urge you all to buy it. It can only have improved in the months since.
Anyway, onto the Bitter. Chosen purely because of its strength, the first sip brought a broad smile to my face. Smooth, sweet toothsome toffee made up the body, but overlaid with a wonderful Juicy-Fruit aroma chock-full of Grapefruit, Strawberry and Pineapple. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t in your face – the whole package was subtle, easy-going and sprightly. The finish then dries out calmly, and prepares you for the next long draw. This is no hop-bomb, but the aroma is fresh, lively and just lifts the whole thing out of the glass. A wonderful session beer; the Best of Bitter – as according to my tastes, anyway.
It also struck me how little in my drinking life I’ve been able to point to a pumpclip and say ‘A Pint of Bitter, please.’ It’s a generational thing, I’m sure, but it seemed right – Jay Krause has unashamedly called the beer Bitter, and so he should. Krause is doing good work over in Stockport, and you shouldn’t pass up the chance to try any of his beers whilst in the North. He’s doing a Meet The Brewer at Mr Foley’s on the 30th April, so do head down.
Another Bitter that I enjoyed this week was Stringer’s XB (4.2%abv). A perfect post-work pint, reviving and crisp, it follows in the usual Stringers blueprint by being packed with flavour. Copper-brown, there’s a solid seam of creamy malt running through it which makes it ultimately nourishing and rewarding, but that’s surrounded by citric, snappily orange pith – led sharpness, which makes it a refreshing beer as much as a rich one. A bold beer indeed, which I can imagine is just the thing after a day’s walking in Ulverston.