Call me old fashioned, but I’ve always liked a drop of the traditionally brewed Deuchars IPA and even today, in beer utopia, I find myself occasionally sitting on a booze-n-sweat stained pub sofa nursing a pint of the stuff. Usually while waiting for a curry. The pub is round the corner from my favourite curry house and the 25 minute wait is the optimum time for a pint of Deuchars refreshment. Unfortunately, the curry house is currently ‘closed for refurbishment’, although it has started to take on more of a ‘closed forever’ look about it.
Deuchars is brewed by a big player in the beer market, the Caledonian Brewery. It’s part of the Heineken group and the IPA is on the beer list of many tied-pubs throughout the land, hence me getting my Scottish IPA fix in the West Country. As with numerous old breweries they’ve been paying attention to the craft-enlightened era we’re currently enjoying and, understandably, want to be part of the action.
Some folk get a bit sniffy about big, established performers tossing their hats into the crowded craft ring. But not me. Give me decent beer and I’ll drink it, no matter the size of the organisation boiling the hops behind the scenes.
I’ve managed to get my hands on The Caley’s ‘modern craft beer’ range of bottled beers. There are three to try: a rye ale called Rare Red, a ‘Three Hop’ lager and Coast to Coast, a pale ale. For this review I’ve decided on the latter. How does it compare to the brewery’s traditional ales like Deuchars? And is it on a par with some of its new brewing competitors? Time to find out…
Coast to Coast is so called because it uses hops from the American West coast (it says there are six varieties, four of which are listed – see below – with the other two being unnamed hops in development) and their favoured ‘Maritime Malt’ from the British east coast. The bottle promises a ‘fresh citrus and piny hop aroma’ and it certainly delivers on that, but there’s also an essence of the British pub about it too.
Drinking it is more of the same, fulfilling the brief of an American-meets-British pale ale experience. The citrussy, piny hops are obvious but not as in-your-face as many US pale ales; and the malty, yeasty character of Deuchars – soft, biscuity and a little bit rustic – is also evident. And it finishes with some dry bitterness to accompany the sweet zesty flavours lingering on the lips.
It’s a very good pale ale and, I would imagine, is particularly appealing to any of The Caley’s loyal drinkers who might be eager to dip their noses into the new-fangled world of American-hopped beers. There are a lot of American pale ales around that have a cleaner, fuller hop flavours than Coast to Coast, but I like the fact that this one is a little bit different. The hopping may be quite reserved compared to those hop-overloaded beers, but this allows the Scottishness of the beer to announce itself with good effect. I’ll gladly drink more of this in the comfort of my own home, but seeing as old-style Scottish IPAs are becoming an endangered species, if that curry house ever re-opens I’m back on the Deuchars.
Brewery: Caledonian Brewery, Edinburgh, Scotland
Beer name: Coast to Coast
Hops used: Centennial, Columbus, Simcoe and Cascade
Note: The Caledonian Brewery sent me several beers, including this one, as ‘research’ for a piece I’m writing on Scottish beers. Hard work, researching beer, not to mention the impact all that alcohol has on the body. Might as well use it for our own purposes as well. Saves me finding another beer to drink this week…