Drinking Oakham’s Scarlet Macaw is like living in technicolour at the moment; the cliche would be that section in The Wizard of Oz when the candystore tones of Oz reveal themselves to Dorothy and Toto, banishing her previous monochrome life to memory. At the moment the leaves are crisping, jumpers are getting pulled over fuzzy heads in the gloomy mornings, and breaks of blue in the sky evoke mild excitement. A beer that evokes another season by simply opening the bottle deserves to be talked about.
Not that I’m complaining; despite being born in the Summer, Autumn’s my favourite time of year. I don’t mind the need to huddle around warmth on an evening, I like belly-busting food and rib-sticking desserts; I don’t mind watching the tone of my beer stash rturn from gold and straw to black and brown. But when the riot of colour and flavour that is Oakham’s Scarlet Macaw presented itself, the change was almost immediate; what a slap of colour, what a reminder of a hot, sticky summer.
The gang from Peterbrough won’t be put down; they just keep churning out accessible beers with super flavour for their strength, and Scarlet Macaw (4.8% abv) is no exception. Golden with a hint of caramel, there’s tonnes of ripe stone fruit on the nose, a hefty spoonful of pineapple chunk and an assertive yet….well, juicy finish. It’s delicious in every sense of the word; sweet enough to remain balanced yet not tooth-jarringly so. The label says it’s a sharp as a macaw’s screech, but to my mind it’s more a blast of a trumpet at a carnival; a one-note shrill in your ear rising above the tribal drums and kaleidoscopic costumes.
With that in mind, I whipped up some Fish Tacos to enjoy alongside, as you do. It’s simple really; a hunk of good, firm fish (I used Coley but Monkfish is good and quite popular now) drenched in batter spiked with flecks of chopped red chilli and deep-fried. And yes, I realise I haven’t added beer to the batter but a) I didn’t have anything quite to suit and b) less is more sometimes.
Serve with a mayo mixed with Tabasco sauce and a little tomato puree, some sweet Jalepenos, all wrap it all up in a soft tortilla. A salad of chopped avocado, lime and tomato will do nicely, too. And although it’s not really in line with the dish, a couple of dollops of Mango chutney would really bring some sweet fruit to the party (Calypso?) to dovetail with the beer.