Magic Rock are on our list of trusted suppliers, and their Salty Kiss was our favourite beer of 2013. That, combined with rapturous comments from Connor Murphy and others, made us keen to track down a bottle of the FIPA they brewed in collaboration with Norwegian brewery Lervig during our time in Sheffield last week.
We found it just as we were leaving town, at the Sheffield Tap, which remains one of our favourite places to drink in the entire country. One 330ml bottle cost £5.25 which made us wince, but was soon forgotten when we tasted it.
It was startlingly good, and fantastically exciting.
It reminded us of the first time we tasted Duvel Triple Hop, or perhaps even of our reaction to our first bottles of Goose Island IPA going on for a decade ago: somehow brighter, shinier and louder than everything else around. It was more complex then a standard hop-focused IPA, and less fusty than a standard saison. Greater than the sum of its parts.
With a train to catch and one eye on the clock, we couldn’t really give it the attention we wanted to, but kept saying ‘Wow!’ and ‘Cor!’ and, finally, dashing for our platform, ‘We need to get some more of that.’
Back home, we ordered four more bottles from Ales by Mail at £2.99 each, plus P&P. On Wednesday night, we opened one and found it… very good indeed, but not revelatory. Last night, we tried another, this time a little less chilled, and had the same reaction: it was delicious, but it didn’t make us faint in ecstasy.
Over the course of a few bottles, we found similarities with the Schneider Hopfenweisse, with tons of ripe strawberry, banana, and candied orange. Something in the aroma reminded us of Thai food, and we eventually decided on lemongrass and (perhaps unsurprisingly) coriander. We’re sort of done with ‘pairing’, but it certainly stood up to a sweaty soft-rind French cheese, with the beer gently doubling the funk. The final impression was of a long bitterness, which rides right on through all the cameo appearances by members of the fruit salad ensemble.
It’s also worth noting that we have yet to pour it anything other than cloudy. To us, this only made it look juicier and more appetising, but we realise not everyone has the same tolerance for heavy fog.
Magic Rock Lervig Farmhouse IPA, on balance, helps to make the case for specials and one-offs, which some dismiss as a distraction: a beer like this can only take you by surprise once, but, boy, is it fun while it lasts.