Name – Triple C
Brewer – Thwaites
Classification – Blonde Ale
Strength – 4.4% ABV
Verdict - At A Glance
On the eye – Brooding orange amber. Eye-catching carbonation makes for the only (microscopic) blot on this beer's copybook.
On the nose – Understated citrus hops. You might even say 'stealth' hops, given the true scale of what lies beneath...
On the tongue – Traffic-stopping, jaw-dropping citrus, yet not without some sense of restraint. Vivid, dynamic, and utterly delicious.
On the subject – Thwaites have been an established part of the cosy beer landscape in Britain for a good old while now, so this ultra-modern brew came to me as the most welcome shock. The reality is that an 'internal revolution' has been underway at the brewery for quite a while now, making for a portfolio of beers which hints at something of a split personality. Half their range is proudly traditional, whilst the other half swaggers around like it couldn't give a monkey's about such tedious things as 'heritage'. This beer is from the latter half of that spilt personality, and I can reveal that the substance behind that 'swagger' is nothing less than diamond hard.
On the market – Fairly strong national presence, with the likes of Morrison's stocking this and plenty more from Thwaites' borderline-schizophrenic output.
On the whole – 9.5/10
Does the following statement apply to you?
"Since discovering the new wave of massively hopped beers, I find all my old favourites boring."
If your answer is 'Yes' you are by no means alone, as this sort of sentiment represents a growing phenomenon in the beer loving world which, left unacknowledged, could eventually pose a significant problem for the beer industry.
That 'problem' is essentially described as follows. Those of us who are brazen enough to consider ourselves 'clued up' about the contemporary beer scene will inevitably have sampled a number of the so-called 'hop bomb' beers which dominate the output of the modern 'craft beer' market – but many of us have subsequently found that going back to our established favourites after discovering these new beers can be an alarmingly unrewarding experience.
It's a fairly straightforward, one-way-street type of a scenario. Once you've experienced a bottle of Thornbridge's 'Jaipur', going back to buying bottles of Badger's 'Golden Champion' seems a fairly pointless endeavour.
Similarly, a glass of BrewDog's '5AMSaint' served straight from your own fridge reduces the enjoyment of shop bought Marston's 'Pedigree' by around 73.6%. Roughly speaking.
Of course I'm being ridiculously unscientific here, but although my point may be crudely put – I'm absolutely certain that the essential core of this argument is dangerously near the knuckle. And it's an argument more and more people are having to grudgingly admit.
The best 'contemporary craft' beers make the best 'old classics' taste dull.
And that statement comes from a guy who once said he'd happily die before saying anything remotely like it.
The truth which I've since had to accept is now crystal clear to me. Once you've seen the world through the prism of cutting edge craft brewed beer, it's difficult to imagine how you could ever look at it in any other way.
The comforting news, perhaps, is that the beer world is so vast, complex and enduring that any permanent shift is never going to be quite as straightforward as I'm making it seem. It's very likely that those old favourites of ours will win back a lot of the ground they might initially appear to have lost forever. Like with many aspects of life, it's really just a matter of letting new and exciting things have their moment, before they too take their place in our established experience base and thereby become every bit as boring as every other thing we've grown used to.
But for those of you still caught in the delicious glare of those 'new wave beer' headlights, today's brew is likely to become a mainstay in your fridge for a good old while.
In short, Triple C is everything a 'hop head' could wish for.
Tellingly, the widely lauded Cascade hop variety has been added at every stage of the brewing process (which happens to be three times, giving us the 'Triple' and the 'C'). The result being that this beer engulfs you with repeated swathes of vivid grapefruit, gooseberry, lime, orange peel and Bramley apple, each of which is pitched just at that mesmerising point at one extreme of the taste spectrum where any fruit sweetness inherent in the citrus begins to cross the impossible line into an almost salty bitterness, leaving your taste buds in a frenzied state of delicious bewilderment, grasping desperately at explanations as to what might be causing this glorious feeling to occur to them.
It's a massively rewarding first few sips, and it only gets better.
I want to make something absolutely clear though. This may be a hop-heavy brew, but it's certainly no 'bomb.'
'Hop bomb' is a widely used expression for beers such as this, and it's a phrase I dislike because it tends to imply that little of what happens to the drinker was a specifically targeted experience brought about by those who created the drink in the first place. Bombs, after all, are among the messiest weapons humans ever conceived of and their outcomes, once triggered, are fairly arbitrary. 'Bomb' really says very little about the enormous levels of skill found in most brewhouses these days.
If we absolutely must use multiple-casualty-devices to describe the experience of drinking a beer (snore) then Triple C has to be far closer to a 'guided-missile' than a mere explosive. It knows exactly where it's going, and it hits that target with devastating accuracy each and every time.
So, having established that there is a distinctly modern, hop-lead feel to this beer, I should add that Triple C has very little of that aforementioned new beer 'swagger'. Thwaites have been careful to keep this brew's 'traditionalist' feet sufficiently on the ground to appeal to that other (ever shrinking) section of the beer loving community whose inhabitants steadfastly refuse to be dazzled by the twinkly lights of 'so-called progress.' The sense of balance hasn't been entirely flung out of the equation as can happen with more aggressive beers of this kind – and just enough savoury biscuit malt has been left in play to keep the old guard from reaching for their torches and pitchforks.
On reflection, perhaps that's actually the best thing about this monumentally likeable drink. It has been so brilliantly conceived, so expertly brewed and so carefully brought to market in these deceptively unassuming bottles – that I don't think anyone who claims to like beer could possibly find any aspect of it not to like.
In fact, I'm now feeling so emboldened by my own super-confident rhetoric, I hereby urge everyone of legal age to go out immediately and buy one.
Trust me, there's no tastier way to work on your swagger.