Sunday, December 15, 2013

Tasting notes - Summer Wine Brewery's Rouge Hop

There's a cheeky note on the bottle about taste being subjective, and not wanting to presuppose what the drinker's "sophisticated palate" will pick out. Erm, not sure about that one, but I'll do my best.

The first thing that struck me about the nose was the hops; specifically, what I associate with Motueka hops. (Upon reading SWB's page on the beer, which states that it's dry-hopped with Simcoe and Cascade, I think I see where I went wrong: BrewDog's Punk was really a watershed moment for me -- and many others, of course -- and so those hop flavours have really stuck with me, and as New Zealand sourced, specifically. However, that said, Cascade are a big part of many other distinctive pale ales, including Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.'s, which I can also taste in the Rouge Hop, with hindsight. But I'm getting ahead of myself.) The other element I picked up in the nose was a bit of a nice red apple; say, a Royal Gala or Jazz.

There was some excellent bitterness in the flavour initially, but it falls off a bit too quickly, for me. There's also something very faintly metallic in the aftertaste; I don't know how to describe it, except to say that it reminds me of tap water I've had... well, somewhere away from home. (I'm not saying that's a bad thing, by the way; probably just further evidence to support that study I read fairly recently about how the water we grow up on, and its particular balance of chemicals, minerals, etc., will always seem right to us, regardless of any empirical evidence to the contrary. [Edit: I think I've found it; see below]) I'm sure I'd be treading on dangerous ground to speculate on the Yorkshire water...

That bitterness was nicely pronounced by about the halfway mark, incidentally, completely masking any of the aforementioned aberrations in the aftertaste.

On the taste of water:
The subjective nature of water tastes has been revealed regularly during taste testing, says Arthur von Wiesenberger... He reckons that we form subconscious memories of water. At a blind water tasting held by The San Francisco Chronicle in 1980, a highly mineralised, non-carbonated French bottled water was hidden among the tap water. It scored poor marks with all of the judges except one, who was French. For him it was the best-tasting and he commented that the water reminded him of home.

According to Wiesenberger, this demonstrates that our taste buds and brain have a strong recall, even with the subtle taste of water.
The article also discusses, at length, whether there's a north/south divide on the subject.

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