Pilot

Pilot is a comedy Twitter account moonlighting as a “real brewery”. Despite this, they’ve managed to produce a solid chocolate Mochaccino Stout and their Blue Lady Pale is a floral and refreshing grown-up tea party. I’m delighted my local bottle shop has started stocking them and can’t wait to try more.

On the back of every can of Pilot’s beer, the label reads, “Pilot is a real brewery”. I don’t know about you, but I reckon that’s precisely what a fake brewery would say.

For a fake brewery, Pilot has managed to push out a pretty vast variety of beers. I started following their Twitter account for the non-stop banter but found myself gazing enviously at their latest beautiful can design more often than laughing at their jokes. Which is saying something, because they are genuinely very funny.

It came as a great surprise and delight when Matt and Patrick’s beers started showing up in my local bottle shop (the excellent and colourful Juice Trap). Naturally I had to pick up a few cans to see whether the beer lives up to the bants: Blue Lady Pale, the confusingly named An IPA, and their Mochaccino Stout.

Blue Lady Pale

Of the three beers I’ve picked up, this one’s in the middle of the caffeine scale as it’s brewed with tea, rather than coffee. Specifically, this beer incorporates Edinburgh’s own Blue Lady tea blend.

That’s apparent immediately on opening the can. As well as the caramel, grapefruit aromas I’d expect to pick up from a modern pale ale there’s also heaps of floral notes. Blue Lady is an Earl Grey variation made with grapefruit oil and marigold flowers, so all making sense so far.

On pouring we see a dark golden, opaque beer with a tall, loose white head. Pilot is very keen to emphasise it doesn’t fine its beers: great news for purists and vegans. I’m just glad I’m not straining chunks through my teeth like with the fishing hook beer last week.

While Blue Lady is subtly different from Earl Grey, it still brings a hint of dish soap to this beer. Once I’m over the initial shock of that, however, it’s all rather good. Grapefruit and biscuit malt sweetness lead on the nose, joined by further grapefruit bitterness, marigold florals and chamomile sweetness on the tongue. It’s those floral flavours that stick around to the finish. Were I drinking several pints of this it might grow tiresome, but over the course of a 330ml can it just makes me feel refined, maybe even dainty. It’s like having a very grown up tea party.

Blue Lady Pale is probably the best tea beer I’ve had in the UK. We’re off to a strong start.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

An IPA

This is a very unassuming name for a beer with such an ostentatious label. That same label proudly boasts this beer contains a range of malts, oats and wheat, plus a carefully considered yet liberally applied selection of the world’s finest hop varieties, foraged from the four corners of the internet. So far it’s sounding a bit like my homebrew.

Unlike my homebrew, however, this looks like it might actually be good. It’s a dark amber, cloudy beer with a lively, frothy head. The aroma is a little resinous, a little boozy: weirdly I also pick up notes of spring onion.

Grapefruit and orange marmalade sweetness lead on the palate, supported by an oaty, satisfyingly chewy mouthfeel. That grassy, oniony note is still there, along with some harsher alcohol flavours, which hang around on the finish.

It’s not a bad beer, but sadly it doesn’t live up to the thrill of excitement I felt on seeing this beautiful can.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Mochaccino Stout

The least interesting of the can labels now, but beauty is only skin deep. Or at least so my dermatologist says.

It’s a stout, so unsurprisingly it looks a lot like a stout. The aroma is intensely chocolatey. To my delight it goes beyond the standard Cadbury’s Options flavour, smelling instead like a mug of rich, dark hot cocoa. The brewers are keen to emphasise they’ve gone the extra miles in these beers, using a mix of raw and roasted organic cacao nibs; roasting coffee to their precise specifications rather than half-arsing things with supermarket instant. That effort is paying off.

There’s more of that chocolate on the palate to start, smoothed out with the addition of vanilla. The coffee, from the Edinburgh Tea & Coffee Company, is a little subtle, but brings a hint of roasty richness.

The lactose brings a rich, creamy mouthfeel and a milky sweetness clinging to the tongue on the finish, both of which add to the sensation that this is a chilled glass of cocoa. Not that that’s a bad thing at all. Unless you’re vegan, in which case the lactose means you can’t drink it.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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