Name - Colombo
Brewer – Otley
Classification – Golden ale
Strength – 4% ABV
Verdict - At A Glance
On the eye - A Champagne-resemblant pale gold translucency.
On the nose - Very special. Hyper-zingy grapefruit dominates the gloriously intoxicating vapour, these intense high notes hover above a firm but subtle biscuity malt base.
On the tongue - A veritable kaleidoscope of a summer beer. Complex, vibrant and moreish.
On the subject - Otley may still be a fairly young outfit, but many agree that they already hold a strong claim to the venerated status of 'Pride Of Wales'. This remarkable, ultra-pale golden beer does much to explain why.
On the market - Maintaining the mystique of Otley is all very well, but I do often wish their beer was a bit easier to come by. However, Otley may have recently cottoned on to this wish - because they've now launched the fabulous online store Real Beer Box, which stocks a wide variety of the very best beers around as well as their own.
On the whole - 8.5/10
Otley - a relatively new brewery with a relatively small output - are a massively hyped firm.
Put another way - they are currently pretty damn 'cool'.
Personally, I'm one of those wary types who are naturally predisposed to approach the twin concepts of hype and coolness with extreme caution - perhaps even with a trace of scepticism, but I've learned over time that amid the throng of charlatans, pretenders and wannabes, there can be found certain brands which are considered cool and are being hyped because they actually happen to merit it.
Otley is one of those brands.
For those in any doubt about this claim - I strongly suggest you get a jar of Colombo down your proverbial neck with all possible haste. I can guarantee that all trace of doubt will be washed deliciously away.
This is a triumph of a brew. Nuanced, elegant and almost criminally tasty - this is probably the best 'summertime' beer I've so far encountered here on The Year.
It's perfectly possible that - if high pitched citrus sharpness ain't usually your bag - you might find yourself taking slightly longer pauses in between mouthfuls, but your mouth will be filled repeatedly all the same, because this ale is just too powerfully enticing to be left sat on the table for very long.
Sure, there is a dominant grapefruit theme, but dancing in circles around that resonant central core are a plethora of dynamic and delightful complementary flavour notes which combine to wind this brew into an exquisite frenzy of a drink experience.
This is one of those ales that makes your mind race with questions after every additional sip. Questions like - "What was that floral hint I just detected?" or "How did they get that twang in the finish?" and of course the inevitable "Why do I only have one of these bottles in the house?"
This beer teases, toys and tantalises you with playful suggestions of all kinds of wonderful. I got zapped with watermelon, dry sherry, ginger, lime zest, basil, gooseberry, celery, wheat husks, popcorn - all of which never become too bold or aggressive, they just join together in that spiralling dance and generally whip up that frenzy.
Like the previous example I featured from the Otley range - Darko - there is a 'natural' feel to this beer which also helps to set it apart. It feels vital and fresh, but also (and rather mysteriously) it feels unique - even though you know full well that, ultimately, it really isn't. I find that to be a quite dazzling characteristic of Otley's creations.
These Welsh wizards are working wonders, and if that amounts to me merely adding further to all the hype, then so be it.
Like I said before - sometimes the hype is right.