Lighter Fluid

Craft brewing has plundered the world of heavy Alcohol By Volume. In recent times, beer with a similar alcoholic content to wine was associated mainly with Belgium with its Dubbels and Tripels. British Barley wines – now commonplace – were more the stuff of legend recalled only by the elemental toothless djinn that haunt this nation’s public houses.

Now the hive conscience has registered the vacuum left at the other end of the booze spectrum and beers from the 2-3 ABV range are legion. Not only are we lucky in abundance, but in variety too. From sours and fruit beers to milds and tonic ales, low ABV beers are a growing trend. In that culture, flavour and refreshment have blossomed. Body needn’t always be compromised either.

I recently came across a perfect opportunity for a vertical tasting. Two breweries both with a 2.8 ABV beer on cask.

Three Blind Mice Brewery     Table Liquor (cask 2.8 ABV)

Little can be gleaned online from this brewery. There is no website but a busy Twitter feed. Despite that, their beers seem to be successfully doing the rounds of the craft beer pubs in London. They are based in the beautiful city of Ely in Cambridgeshire and this beer won silver at the 2015 Cambridge Beer Festival.

It’s lemon yellow and crystal clear with a white spittle of a head. I get lemon flesh in the aroma too and the accompanying dryness on the palate. It has a burnished metallic quality of copper coins like you get in good matured lagers. It ends with a dry aftertaste. Despite these notes, it’s quite a shallow ale insofar as everything that can be revealed does so in the first couple of sips. The body is quite weak but it’s refreshing and perfect for a summer thirst quencher. If you session this, you might get a bit of a digestive burn as the alpha acids have little to temper them (then again, you might not. I only had a half).

Siren Brewery    Half Mast QIPA (cask 2.8 ABV)

Siren Craft Brew requires little introduction as their beers are not only ubiquitous in the beer bars of Britain but in good beer bars and shops internationally. They have collaborated with many equally amazing brewers such as Crooked Stave, Arizona Wilderness, Hill Farmstead and Omnipollo and maintain their reputation as one of the country’s most innovative breweries.

QIPA stands for Quarter India Pale Ale – a reference to the unusually low ABV for the style. In appearance, it’s gold verging on bronze. It has a fruity aroma. There is the citrus but also the richer notes of darker fruit like blueberries. Initial sip is gentle and sorbet-like. There is a woodiness on the palate but also a sweetness like Brandy or Muscat grapes. It’s fruity rather than dry. I love it but I’m not sure what qualifies it as an IPA. A creamy soothing fruit basket – it could’ve been made by Danone. Tangy too like a fruit compote. The alpha acids seem easily held in check by the body. It’s my favourite out of the two beers.

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