I wrote recently here at The Brewclub about Oakham Ales in Peterborough and their rather excellent ‘Scarlet Macaw’ red IPA. At that time I mentioned that Oakham have started exporting to the United States, so there’s a chance that Brewclub readers in the (ahem) ‘Colonies’ might get their hands on them.
The first batch of ales to wing its way Stateside comprised their ‘Citra’ and ‘Inferno’ brews, and ‘Scarlet Macaw’ shouldn’t be far behind.
I’ll say from the outset that Oakham have kindly provided samples of ‘Scarlet Macaw’, ‘Citra’ and ‘Inferno’ for me to review for ‘The Brewclub’. It’s nice when the ‘beer pixies’ leave brews on my doorstep and I always acknowledge in my review if the beer has been so provided, rather than purchased out of my own pocket money.
Oakham Ales – Citra 4.6% ABV
I’ll also say that, I’m afraid the label of ‘Citra’ doesn’t do it for me, a smiley green hop, nah… looks like ‘Keenser’ – Scotty’s little friend in the new Star Trek movies. I’d have reached for another bottle of ‘Scarlet Macaw’, but I have already conceded that I’m shallow.
‘Citra’ was first brewed in 2009 as one of their ‘Oakademy of Excellence’ brews and proved so popular that in 2010 it became one of their permanent brews. It’s varietal – in that it only uses ‘Citra’ hops, Oakham were the first UK Brewer to brew with the ‘Citra’ hop. As you may be aware the creation (breeding?) of the ‘Citra’ hop was instigated by the chaps at Sierra Nevada, who use it in their ‘Torpedo’ ale – a few bottles of which are currently chilling in my beer fridge.
‘Oakham’s Citra’ pours a very pale golden colour, very much a sunshine beer, the head is best described as ‘reluctant’, but after some energetic pouring I mustered some foam. The nose is wonderfully fruity, with peaches and lychee hiding behind the ‘up front’ grapefruit.
And the flavour is much the same, yes there’s the grapefruit-cum-gooseberry citrus bite, but it’s underpinned by softer fruit flavours, peach, lychee and hints of honey.
Not a ‘hop-bomb’, but light and refreshing, and at ‘only’ 4.6% ABV it could just be considered a ‘session beer’ (I’ve had a few instances of late where I’ve enjoyed several pints of Thornbridge Jaipur on a warm, summer evening only to be reminded, next morning, that it comes in at a whopping 5.9% ABV).
‘Oakham Citra’ has piled straight into my top-five ‘lawnmower beers’, it also won Gold at the 2012 International Beer Challenge, I’m happy to give this 4.5 stars.
Oakham Ales – Inferno 4.4% ABV
Another challenging label, this one looks like the ‘anomalies’ in that TV series with the dinosaurs. Concentrate Bob, stop being shallow, what does it say at the top of the screen? It’s all about the beer.
Inferno pours a very pale golden colour, there’s a reasonable head, blinding white, as you’d expect.
The nose is spicy and floral, this brew claims to include a blend of five different hops, all sourced from Washington’s Yakima Valley.
And the flavour, it’s dry, sharp, refreshing, and hoppy. Those Yakima hops have not journeyed and sacrificed themselves in vain. Again, it’s well balanced, not a ‘hop bomb’ it’s a good example of a modern IPA, or perhaps more accurately a British APA.
I’d give this 3½ stars, not quite up there with the Citra or Scarlet Macaw, but still worth seeking out if you live in an Eastern State.
Oakham Ales are being imported by ‘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.
Let us know if you find any Oakham Ales, we’d love to hear your opinions!