Category Archives: Thornbridge Jaipur IPA

>Dinner With Thornbridge

> …So last night we dined with with Thornbridge at The Cross Keys. Given how awesome the Flying Dog event was a few years back, I’ve been waiting for one of these nights to come up again, and after missing the last few, I was pleased that Thornbridge had been lined up. The staff at The Cross Keys do these events very well; pleasant, knowledgeable staff, and fantastic food. As the courses came out, we were guided along by Caolan Vaughn, one of Thornbridge’s brewers.

We kicked off the evening savouring Jaipur (or ‘Jaips’, as I have been led to believe is the correct name for it ‘on the street‘). Smoked Nidderdale Trout and Chive Mousse, nestled on a small pastry case, provided some light snackage, giving a little more sweetness to Jaipur’s (5.8%abv) wonderfully rounded, soft bitterness. I always find smoked fish a bit tricky to match beer with, and it certainly provided a little inspiration.
Tender-as-you-like-it Asparagus with a Mint Hollandaise and a Poached Egg arrived at our table next, and again the accompanying Wild Swan (3.5%) proved a simple yet effective bedfellow; lower in complexity and strength than Jaipur and working well with the subtle mint notes of the Hollandaise. I’m a fan of Wild Swan; a great quaffer when the weather gets a little warmer.
Chilled Cucumber Soup didn’t hit the mark for me; it was over-seasoned and nowhere near cold enough. Luckily, Chiron (5%abv) provided an ample distraction. Again, one of those simple-yet-perfectly-balanced Pale Ales that Thornbridge do so well, it was on excellent form; a slight Orange Zest coming in late to provide a bit of a different angle to the bitterness.
The ace in the pack was undoubtedly the Slow Roasted Pork Belly with Crushed Peas. Served with a scattering of perfectly crisp Skin, sitting on a bed of Mashed Potato and slathered in Honey and Mustard Sauce, it cried out for an excellent beer to go with it. The pork was meltingly tender, and the salty crackling and sweet-yet-piquant sauce worked wonders. Colorado Red (5.9%abv) proved to be the perfect partner for it.
This is a great, great beer. Brewed with Doug Odell, it does a Trans-Atlantic feel about it; Rich Red colour, that trademark US sweetness in the body; all toffee, hard candy and brown sugar, but finished with a really peppery, almost noble hop aroma as opposed to the citrus hop attack you almost expect. The body’s not as rich in mouthfeel as you think, and it’s incredibly easy to drink. I do feel that Odell’s beers – although generally excellent – are moderately ‘safe’ and a little ‘straight down the middle’ – and CR is a great little twist on their style, something a little different. Colorado Red and the Pork were made for each other, and it truly hit the spot. I almost don’t want to say it; but I’d really like to try CR on Keg, too.
After all that sweetness, a little Lemon Tart freshened things up; only to serve as prelude for the main dessert: Bitter Chocolate Mousse served with a Honey Biscuit, and washed down with Bracia (9%abv). I say ‘washed down’ but that’s not entirely accurate; one doesn’t ‘wash down’ Bracia. The chocolate mousse served only to enhance the rich, bitter chocolate notes of the beer, and the Honey Biscuit just put a sweet edge to that slightly smoked, slightly phenolic note that it carries. Glass-coatingly thick, Bracia put a rich, decadent end on the evening. I certainly slept well last night, and that’s high praise indeed.
Thanks to all involved for a great evening.

>Moonlighting

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Well, that’s the sunny weather pretty much done for, it seems. Still, it gave me the opportunity to crack open some of those summer beers that we all know and love – pale, zingy, crisp and refreshing, and perfect for al fresco drinking.

One surprise entry amongst last weekend’s usual suspects – Thornbridge’s Jaipur, Wensleydale’s Coverdale Poacher, Copper Dragon’s Golden Pippin and Ilkey’s Mary Jane to name but a few – was Marks & Spencer’s Essex Summer Ale, bought purely on a whim whilst buying food because (in a childish voice) it had a pwetty label.

Closer inspection reveals this little treat to be brewed by Crouch Vale, brewers of such fine beers as Brewer’s Gold and Amarillo. Essex Summer Ale follows much in the same path, although more complex than Brewer’s Gold – straw in colour, but with a real tropical/Juicy fruit aroma, and a real C-Hop hit on the tongue. A slightly grainy body is lifted with an ever-so-slight hint of minty grassiness at the end of the sip. I enjoyed it immensely, and would happily drink it again. So there you go. Moonlighting occasionally works.

>The Keighley & WV Railways Beer & Music Festival 2008

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Right – another weekend, another Beer Festival. Love them or hate them, you at least get a chance to try as many beers as possible in a short space of time. Why a short space of time? Because once there, you kind of want to leave….

Anyway – it’s not about the people there, it’s about the beer. And that’s why I love beer festivals – because I am like a child in a sweet shop. Still. At my age.

This one, an annual event, but one that includes a pleasant ride on a steam train on the beautiful Keighley & Worth Valley railway, is one of the better ones. I did plan to have a pint of Taylor’s on the ride but to be honest, the tiny beer carriages were rammed. No bother – ten minutes later and we’re in Beervana.

The Oxenhope tramshed the festival is held in makes a nice change – the hulking steam trains make an interesting backdrop to boozing. The blues and jazz bands playing make a pleasant sound – although not particularly conducive to conversation – and the beer selection is excellent. In fact, my quest to finally taste Thornbridge’s Jaipur IPA ended here. And boy, am I glad it did. An excellent beer; sweet as hell to start and then drying out to pucker the lips and deliver that grassy, hoppy bitterness true of a true IPA. I know it’s jaded now, almost a year after notoriety, but I loved this. Gimme more.
Dark Star’s Hophead impressed, as did Mallinson’s Conkered – a rich, malty mild that certainly hit the spot. Oakham’s JHB followed much the same style – very nice indeed. Second only to the Jaipur, Salopian’s excellent Oracle deserves a mention. Flowery hops and a crisp, pale profile really stripped the palate back and refreshed after a couple of milds. Good work – one brewery I’ll be keeping an eye out for.

Looking around, I noticed the breadth of beers showing at this weekend jaunt. Goose Eye’s Bronte gained a thumbs-up from our drinking party, as did O’Hanlan’s Port Stout – which admittedly looked delicious. I had my eye on a few beers which I didn’t get to try; Triple FFF had their (surely prohibitively?) named Pressed Rat & Warthog going great guns, Milestone were pouring a raspberry wheat beer, and Durham had a massive selection, including one of my faves, their Amarillo. Greenfield also deserve a mention for seemingly (in my head, at least) naming a beer after my current fave Leeds Utd player – Delph Donkey (What next? Beckford’s Best? Becchio Bitter? Ankegren Ale?) – add to this a decent bottle bar and – most importantly – Roast Pork Sandwiches – and you’ve got one pleasant Saturday’s drinking.
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