Name – Northern Light
Brewer – Orkney
Classification – Pale ale
Strength – 4.0% ABV
Verdict - At A Glance
On the eye – Muted, yet vivid straw-gold.
On the nose – An atonal, sharp and reasonably aggressive high pitched scream of a scent. Nothing at all like the drink that follows.
On the tongue – Quite a different story. A veritable collage of rich citrus, faint herbs and spices and the subtlest of malt bases.
On the subject – The company motto at Orkney Brewery is “5000 Years In The Making”, and I reckon such a wait is probably just about worth it for beers such as this.
On the market – Specialist beer shops almost always stock Orkney ales, but wider availability is growing. And it's about time too after those '5000 years'! This came from The Real Ale Store.
On the whole – 8/10
You'd think it was hard for a beer to have both subtlety and intensity as it's two principle features.
But this excellent ale from Orkney Brewery has no trouble combining those two elements at all, and I have to admit - the results are quite mesmerising.
This thirst-annihilating beer is easy enough on the mouth to sink in no time whatsoever, and yet the clarity of it's many flavours is utterly tremendous. Orkney have somehow found a way of focussing each of these flavours without powering them into the mouth by simply upping the levels to the max. The assembly of this beer has been executed with remarkable skill and care. Each of the many characteristics is given space to flourish whilst the overall effect is beautifully restrained and understated.
The result is an enormously enigmatic ale.
It never reveals itself all at once, and many of the delicious notes that strike you often do so only in short bursts, before vanishing for several sips only to pounce on you again later in the most bedazzling and playful way.
It's very clever stuff.
Those many flavours include melon, apricot, gooseberry, orange, peach, mango, wild-grasses, faint herbs and spices and even fainter honeyed-cereals. Each has been pitched with that palpable brain surgeons precision.
They say this is a pale ale, and who am I to argue. But it drinks very much like a blonde or pale gold beer to me, but then I'm stupid enough to be troubled by such things.
Whatever the variety – this is top class stuff.
It's classification might as well be 'lovely ale', because that would appear to define it better than anything.
On this evidence, I'd say Orkney's range is worth further inspection.
You have been warned...