Name - Amarillo
Brewer - Crouch Vale
Classification - Golden premium ale
Strength - 5.0% ABV
Verdict - At A Glance
On the eye - 22 carat liquid gold.
On the nose - High note spicy hops. Very dynamic.
On the tongue - A revelation. A supremely complex, vivid and delightful summertime ale.
On the subject - Against the backdrop of the relatively recent resurgence of the 'micro brewery', Chelmsford's Crouch Vale Brewery have been around for ages. 1981 is when they first began to brew beer, and their love of seasonal experimentation has clearly given rise to some real micro marvels. Today's beer being no exception.
On the market - Rare. I reckon that about sums it up, globally. So hard to come by in fact, that this bottle was left at my door by a secret agent (see below...) Local availability, however, is pretty decent. If you live in Essex, go to Tesco. If you live elsewhere, go to Essex. For an online option try Ales By Mail.
On the whole - 8.5/10
This beer, which arrived in my midsts quite unexpectedly, is an absolute gem.
Had I not known that Gary Gooch of Oldershaw Brewery (a company with no business links to Crouch Vale, I hasten to add) had dropped this at my doorstep - I might have assumed it had fallen there from Heaven, because this stuff sure does drink like liquid manna.
Rarely have I encountered an ale which is so intensively vivid in its character. This beer grabs you forcefully on every sensory level, and it simply does not let go.
Tropical fruits - grapefruit, passion fruit - white grapes, peach, apricot, elderberry... this brew is so active with deliciously intense summertime wonderfulness that I was left slightly punch-drunk from the sheer barrage of vivacious flavours.
Without trying to sound like I've had my head buried in the sand over recent years during the march of the modern micro - I was taken aback by how such a small outfit had created a beer that was so staggeringly nuanced and refined but which also contained flavours of such tremendous immediacy and impact. Frankly, my mind began racing with conspiracy theories - I sold myself the idea that Crouch Vale was in fact a covert arm of a giant multi-national brewery, who used the label as a cover story for their secret experiments to find groundbreaking new beers with which to conquer the global market.
This beer is so distinctive and so sophisticated - I could almost believe this.
Many of you will know of this firm due to the success of the cask version of their Brewers Gold, which picked up CAMRA's Supreme Champion Beer of Britain in both 2005 and 2006, but I'd say this brand deserves to be far better known than it is right now.
Certainly, if Amarillo is in any way representative of what Crouch Vale are capable of - then these guys are magicians. No question about it.
Seek out this beer at your earliest opportunity.
Trust me, it's special.