When I met the guys from Oakham at a beer competition in London recently I confess I was drawn to their new ‘Scarlet Macaw’ brew by its labelling. Okay, I admit it, I’m shallow, but the brightly coloured bird on the label (in a room full of, frankly, less striking labels) conjured up happy memories of drinking chilled beers on a hot, sunny day in Key West.
Oakham Ales, originally hailed from the town of Oakham in Rutland, they’re now based in Peterborough, about seventy five miles north of London.
They started brewing back in 1998 as a brewpub-micro, but have enlarged their operations in recent years. Additionally they now brew limited edition, speciality beers from their home at the ‘Brewery Tap’ brew-pub under their ‘Oakademy of Excellence’ brand.
They have a proud heritage, their ‘Jeffrey Hudson Bitter’ – a ‘session’ beer brewed to 3.8% was voted CAMRA Champion Beer of Britain back in 2001. More recently, their main range of beers – which includes ‘Inferno’ and ‘Citra’ pale ales that use ‘modern’ new world hops – have won a clutch of awards. These include bronze and gold awards respectively at the 2012 International Beer Challenge.
Scarlet Macaw pours a rich red colour. Oh heavens, does this mean another new category? Alongside IPAs, APAs, PPAs, Double IPAs, and Dark IPAs – do we now have a RED IPA?
Okay, so be it, I might be shallow, but I’m open-minded.
The nose is Gooseberry and Grapefruit with subtle hints of Peach.
The flavour? Well the brewery describes it as having “Gooseberries and fruit to taste, before an intense bitterness that’s as sharp as a macaw’s screech!” I can’t disagree with that, certainly it’s grapefruit to the fore, with those peachy notes in the background, and intense bitter hops.
That’s them Amarillo and Summit hops from the Yakima Valley in Washington State, Amarillo for the fruit, while Summit that packs a punch.
All sitting on a bed of Maris Otter, Cara & Pro Ant malts.
This is a refreshing American Style Pale Ale, intense but not palate stunning, and on a hot sunny day in Blighty it brought back more memories of Key West.
And the good news, for you guys in the (ahem) colonies, is that Oakham are now shipping to the United States. Their importers are ‘Grapevine Distributors’ based out of Concord, North Carolina. Grapevine cover the states of North and South Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia and Virginia and have links to a supplier in Washington DC.
The first shipment will comprise their Inferno and Citra ales – both of which I hope to review for The Brewclub in coming weeks – while Scarlet Macaw shouldn’t be far behind.