Yesterday I made my usual Sunday trip to the Grove, with the intention of checking out the Magic Rock 'Curious NZ', to see if my expectations for the beer could be met. Fortunately it was still on the bar, and lived up to everything I had hoped for; a wonderful blend of New Zealand hops made a very flavoursome, very drinkable session beer. I found it more to my taste than the usual 'Curious' (made with American hops) which I find a little harsh in comparison now, but there again that is just my opinion, both are excellent beers from an excellent brewery. The problem came when trying to work out what to try next !
I know the Grove often sells strong beers, but this time all the beers I fancied were super strong, thankfully they do serve thirds so I could manage a few without causing myself too much harm. Dark Star 'Oktoberfest' was there, but not really to my taste, the blend of German malts being a bit overpowering for me. Better was the Marble/North Bar collaboration 'Little Jim', this weighed in at 6.9%, so was hardly a session beer. However, recent Marble beers have not really hit the spot, and after the initial taste promising much it turned into something a little ordinary despite its strength. I followed this with the slightly less weighty Buxton 'High Tor', a 6.3% red ale. Red ale is not my favourite style of beer, often finding the malts overtaking the hop flavours, and sadly I found this to be the case here. Lots of strength in a beer was proving that lots of great taste does not necessarily follow. But then I found the perfect antidote to all the malty beers I had come across.
One of my favourite breweries of recent times is Redwillow from Cheshire, never afraid to experiment, they have made some weird and wonderful beers, one of their best was 'Faithless VII' which was a wheat beer, the version I sampled being dry hopped. This time it was the bog standard version, and it was exceptional. 7.9% is a high strength for a wheat beer, but this time the strength is not compromised by the taste. Everything I want in a wheat beer, and more, a superb way to end a session of thirds. All that left me was a Thornbridge/Kernal collaboration at 7.2% to sample at a more sensible time. Guess where I will be this afternoon !