Lockdown Love is a hazy, unfined pale ale packed with bitter hops and sweet, earthy apple flavours: it’s also vegan-friendly. Holy Mole is a chilli chocolate stout with rich coffee notes and a pleasing chilli warmth. Both beers contain gluten.
The most wonderful time of the year is not a wonderful time for my liver. Between restorative beers after long walks through the cold and wet countryside, a snifter of sherry before dinner. plentiful wine with each meal and a tot or three of whisky to aid digestion, I come out of the festive period fairly pickled.
Compounding matters is my thoughtful family. While my father’s beer taste overlaps only slightly with mine (he is a socks-and-sandals sporting CAMRA real ale die-hard who thinks Nelson Sauvin was a character from the Simpsons), he does at least appreciate that this shared hobby makes the stressful process of buying Christmas presents far easier. I’m looking forward to working through his crate of beers from local South West breweries over the next few weeks, starting with this pair from Dawkins.
Given we face tighter Tier 4 restrictions from Boxing Day, I’ve kicked things off with an appropriately named beer. Dawkins Brewery, based in the village of Timsbury just outside Bath, has brewed this hazy, hoppy blonde ale to thank the loyal customers who have continued to buy their beer even after pubs were forced to close their doors.
It is, as promised, hazy and blonde. A cloudy, pale amber body supports a rich, fluffy head. Lemon and apple lead on the nose, backed up with a little pale biscuit malt.
The hop character is far more pronounced on the palate. Lemon rind bitterness cuts through the pale malt base. The flavour is a little sour – not so much as to be undrinkable, but it’s not especially pleasant either. It’s that sourness that lingers on until the finish.
While my partner’s insistence on berry smoothie kettle sours has convinced me sour beers can often be quite fun, sadly it’s not a flavour that works here.
I am deeply familiar with Upton Cheyney Chilli Farm’s produce – more than once I’ve deeply regretted overindulging in their mango, lime, and habanero chilli sauce. Seeing their chillies in a stout is a delightful surprise.
The first thing to note with this beer is how beautiful the label is. A psychedelic sugar skull made up of chillies and yet more skulls, it’s the sort of thing I put off drinking to keep admiring it on the shelf longer. Once I cave and open the bottle, it pours dark and rich with an opaque, black body and a toffee-coloured head that quickly fades.
On the aroma I pick up a mix of sweet, peppery fruitiness and rich chocolate malt. The flavour is delightfully chocolatey and sweet at first, with hints of coffee bitterness. But the chilli heat rapidly builds, warming the tongue and hanging around long after the final sip. It’s not enough to blow your head off; even so, this beer is not for the faint hearted.
As a fan of both chillies and beer, I’m genuinely delighted to find a drink here that showcases the best of both those worlds without compromise. The fire still burning in my mouth as I write is testament to Holy Mole’s triumph over my self-control.