“Hey, Rich, do you think it’s possible to own too much beer?”
“Good. Glad we’ve cleared that one up.”
I’ve recently been stocking up on beer. Not that my beer supplies have been running low, but because we’re in this golden age of beer, loaded with more choice then we’ve ever had, and I simply can’t stop buying the stuff. I don’t have an addiction to drinking beer. Just an addiction to buying it.
As a result, my expanding batallions of bottles and cans have started to arrange themselves into some kind of priority order. In the middle is the mass of beer patiently waiting for the opportunity to be guzzled. The beers I’m more eager to try have been nudged to the front, each with labels visible for instant recognition, just a week or so away from the short journey to the fridge or direct to a glass. Then at the back we have the reserves. This contains the booze that I’ve been less anxious to try: there are some duff beers I’ve been sent to review (and won’t); there are gifts of beer that, although gratefully received, I’ve had before or don’t excite me; there are duplicates of beer from the middle section; and there are others that, for one reason or another, have failed to attract my attention.
But now, as new legions of beer have been rapidly arriving on the scene, I’ve decided to reverse the drinking order: I’ve been going through the reserves, polishing them off to make way for the better brews.
Among this section I recently found a bottle of Buxton Brewery’s IPA ‘Wild Boar.’ I don’t quite remember where or when I got it, or what it was doing shamefully lurking in the less wanted selection. Perhaps Rich had a bottle and warned me against it? Maybe I read a bad review of it? Or did something about the label put me off? Whatever the reason, it went in the fridge and a few days ago got drank.
And now I feel guilty for allowing it to get dragged into such average company as the rest of the reserves: it is a superb IPA.
Buxton Brewery is a properly good craft beer maker in the Spa town of the same name, a place recently voted in the Sunday Times ‘Top 13 Places to Live in the Midlands’, and near the site of a Screaming Skull called Dickie. The brewery also has a tap room which, skulls aside, makes it a town worth visiting.
Wild Boar has obviously been influenced by American IPAs, with a noticeable hop fruitiness that is often compared to mango. But whereas some of those US style hoppy IPAs can be full-on with their sticky tropical pudding flavours, Wild Boar pares it back nicely. There’s a lemony, limey freshness to those hop notes; a touch of earthiness too, making the malty flavours a bit more prominent than many light malt IPAs; and it has a dryness and bitterness that are bold but far from overboard. It’s a very easy drinking IPA with but with a bit more depth than many of its similarly-strengthed contemporaries; and maybe it’s even just a little bit wild.
I asked Rich if he had ever encountered it, trying to find a reason for my initial sceptisim. He hadn’t, but he has tried Buxton’s Axe Edge, a slightly stronger IPA from their range. He liked it. It got four stars on his Untappd beer log. So I still don’t know why I dismissed it. But to make up for my guilt I’ve got some more. Now they’re right at the front of the queue, boars to the fore, and I only need to decide if I should share one with Rich…
Brewery: Buxton Brewery, Buxton, Derbyshire
Beer name: Wild Boar, IPA