Name – Pitchfork
Brewer – RCH
Classification – 'Rebellious' Bitter. (They really are not kidding.)
Strength – 4.3% ABV
Verdict - At A Glance
On the eye – A certain gaseous overzealousness caused what would have been a nice golden glow to cloud-up. That's a pity.
On the nose – A quite literal 'burst' of bold, brassy malts. There's little trace of those scheming, malevolent hops which lurk beneath.
On the tongue – Citrus, citrus, citrus! Oh, and did I mention citrus?
On the subject – Born in Burnham-On-Sea in the 'Royal Clarence Hotel', the brewery stole that venue's initials and went on to use them to award winning effect.
On the market – 'Select' UK stockists. Online retailers include Beer Paradise.
On the whole – 6/10
With yesterday's beer being called 'Battle Axe', you would be forgiven for supposing that I was feeling a little punchy when I then decide to follow up on that beer with a brew named 'Pitchfork', especially in view of the latter beer's label - which features the silhouettes of people brandishing those very garden implements in a manner which doesn't exactly scream 'I love you'.
Well, it may be true that I'm in a slightly belligerent frame of mind. After all, I do usually like to compensate for all the nauseating benevolence which tends to infect the populous at this 'festive' time of year.
Having said that, no dark mood – however punchy – could ever have prepared me for this hotheaded drink experience.
From the minute I removed its cap, this feisty beer was in the very foulest temper that I've ever witnessed in an alcoholic beverage.
It billowed forth from the bottle like some foamy Krakatoa, and refused to be poured into my glass for a good ten minutes. I'd estimate that I consumed my first eighth of the drink in bubble form only.
The yeast within the jar had seemingly taken exception to a last minute cooling session I'd exposed it to (I'd sat it out on the doorstep for five minutes) - and World War Three was the result.
All in all, during its initial introduction to me, 'Pitchfork' behaved rather more like an 'H-Bomb.'
This initial show of impetuous rage did eventually come to an end, and some level of analysis was allowed to commence, but what came next left me in an even greater state of bewilderment.
This was mainly caused by the beer's taste.
Bad is not the word for it. The reason I know this is because the taste was not bad at all.
There's a better word than 'bad' to describe it... and I think that word might be 'mean'.
We're talking 'bad' as in 'bad ass.'
The dominant citrus flavour theme is so intense that I need to begin reaching for expressions like 'eye popping' and 'jaw dropping'. And I really have to say that this citrus 'hit' is so extreme that it runs the risk of crossing the implied line in terms of appropriate use of character defining ingredients.
A glance down at the label and a subsequent rummage through the illustrious award winning history of the beer made me begin to wonder if the yeast's reaction to the cold had literally altered the nature of the brew and transformed it beyond recognition.
Frankly, I'm inclined to let that possibility hold quite a bit of weight considering the extent to which the experience I had seems to differ from the experience of so many who've experienced it before.
That being said, I do also wonder if this beer did nothing more than capture the spirit of the time that it was released, causing drinkers of the moment to get caught up in the sense of how this beer in some way defined an era, or perhaps even challenged and shook up that era.
It's hard to know for sure what was going on when the many gongs were being showered on this brew.
The basic issue with it, because I feel I should be specific, is the hops.
I know there is a market for brews which make you shriek 'Holy God!' whenever you sip them, but the relentlessness of the citrus blast within the sample I tasted tonight – stomped right over the limit of what I consider a reasonable balance of taste, and it left me doubtful that this was a brew which I could ever again happily imbibe.
To be fair, this is not a beer which does things by halves, and that is a quality I always respect in a beer which sets out to challenge convention.
But it feels like the 'respect' which this beer is looking for is exactly the same kind of respect which the Mafia like to command. And that kind of beer really needs to catch me in the right frame of mind.
Maybe I need to try it again when my 'punchy' levels are right up at the max.
Because tonight, I really was no kind of match at all for the merciless Pitchfork.
In fact, this beer genuinely had me beat.