Sunday, 7 September 2014

Salopian Sentinel

Salopian make my favourite session beer, Shropshire Gold, it's a great beer both in the bottle and also on draft. They are also moving their brewer to within about 2 miles of where I live, so I am looking forwards to visiting the new place soon, scrounging some beer and maybe even some ingredients.

While they have been brewers of hop-forward beers for a fair few years now, these have still be very traditional English bitters and pale ales, however they have, like many English breweries, started a range of more aggressively hopped brews, clearly influenced by the trend to use US and New Zealand hops in more fruity, higher alcohol brews.

Today I picked up a few bottles of interesting beers from the Shrewsbury indoor market, Salopian's Sentinal was one of them. Packaged in a simple brown 330ml bottle, this is an 8.4% "double IPA" style beer, very much in the vein as Brewdog's Hardcore IPA and many many similarly styled beers from the US, however this is really a big British style traditional India Pale Ale.

The hop aroma is the first thing that you notice, Salopian have managed to capture more than more beers do in my experience, at a guess this is dry hopped with a traditional English hop variety like Goldings, it certainly doesn't smell or taste particularly citrussy which again would suggest UK or European hops.

It's also a bottle conditioned beer, which is in my opinion a massive plus, it will probably mean that the beer changes flavour over time slightly (although maybe not as much as I would like, more on that lately), again typical of traditional British IPAs rather than its US counterparts.

As you can see it's got a very nice hazy orange hue, it's almost impossible to guess the grain-bill but probably quite simple, at a guess just English Pale Malt.

Taste wise it is good, lots of resinous hop bitterness, some fruit and quite a lot of residual sweetness, it's not a sweet beer per se, but it's not fantastically dry or attenuated either. It's quite balanced but still a "big beer".

Personally I'm a little over this style, I don't know when to drink it really, I'm not really someone who sips beer and savours it, which this style really needs you to do, but there again I like complexity and good robust flavours, which it must be said this beer has in abundance. So it's hard to be critical, it does what it sets out to do perfectly.

I'd like to taste a beer like this, but one that has been aged with some brettanomyces to dry it out a bit more and thin it a little, changing the flavour over time, probably somewhat more like what an original IPA would have been like, particularly after a six month sea voyage to India.

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