Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Day 146, Beer 146 - Windsor & Eton's "Kohinoor"

Today's Beer

Name – Kohinoor

Brewer – Windsor & Eton

Classification – Commonwealth IPA  (And, children, that stands for Commonwealth 'Indies' Pale Ale as opposed to Commonwealth 'India' Pale Ale, m'kay!)

Strength – 5.0% ABV

Verdict - At A Glance

On the eye – Deep, rich, almost aristocratic amber. One might even offer forth a daft nonsensical word like 'amberstocratic' if one were a spineless, bottom-feeding cretin. (Doh!)

On the nose – Citrus Kong, high on steroids, tearing up an Asian herb garden. A deadly fragrance, but a beautiful one.

On the tongue – Punchy bitterness, surprisingly full bodied, and with an array of delicate herbal and spiced notes which put the ‘India’ right back into ‘IPA’.

On the subject – One of three beers brewed to commemorate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee by one of the most exciting breweries in all of Britain, the Commonwealth, and the world.

On the market – All of the usual W&E stockists as listed on their website here. But wherever you find it, buy it quickly. This won’t be around forever.

On the whole8.5/10

Full Review

This is not my favourite Windsor & Eton beer.

I laughed to myself when I wrote that opening line, because it’s rather like some wealthy aristocratic lady declaring “sapphires aren’t my favourite blue jewels.”

The reality is that this brewery are responsible for some of my very favourite bottled beers, so when one of their creations isn’t quite as jaw dropping as one of their others – chances are it’s still probably far better than the vast majority of ales in the universe. So, on reflection, maybe that’s actually a more accurate way to begin this review...

‘This beer is far better than most other beers in the universe.’

Yes, that’s much better.

As I’ve already hinted above, one of the most instantly impressive characteristics of this beer (arguably its defining trait) is the playful way in which it introduces flavours and aromas from the Indian subcontinent. I say ‘playful’ because one can’t help but assume this is a nostalgic nod to the former British Empire and the “days of the Raj” – the very days that this beer variety was first created. But in all my years of enjoying IPA’s in all there multifarious forms, I’ve never before tasted one that evokes such a sense of India itself, and the results are both delicious and amusing.

But the fact is that these guys have such finely honed skills alongside their famously good instincts for recipe building, that they can literally chose to be playful as well as merely brilliant.

The levels of nuance are just bewildering. Some of the herbal and dried fruit 'twangs' (to name just two of many more) are almost there as flavours which you can ‘select’ to experience at your leisure, tuning your taste buds into them as and when you please, or switching certain tastes off in favour of others when the mood takes you. This, then, is rather like ‘interactive ale’, which the ‘user’ can engage with at any level that he/she desires. User defined beer is not simple to brew. These guys have the vast amounts of talent required.

The potency of the overall flavour theme and the perceived alcohol ‘thwack’ are both far bolder than the 5.0% ABV should really allow, which again shows us that these Berkshire magicians know how to maximise results from every ingredient in every part of the process.

It’s got a nicely robust salty bitterness, but there’s also a welcome sub-flavour of Jamaican Ginger Cake which brings with it enough of a subtle syrupy quality to counteract the saltiness and keep everything evenly balanced.

Overall, Kohinoor has enough ‘quirkiness’ to justify its classification as a ‘special edition’, and in many ways it is a very unique beer. But there’s also enough sheer class at play here to ensure that if this IPA decides to stick around long after the national party is over – I for one will not be complaining.