A koala*, a crab and a reindeer walk into a brewery…
Flipside is a rush of fruit to the head. This hazy IPA is a showcase of Galaxy and Aussie Eclipse hops. It starts with aromas of peach and that fresh-but-sticky smell of rockmelon, and moves to lush citrus and tropical fruit flavours that come across dry in the mouth.
But the beautiful full body is what really got my attention. You know those float tanks designed to be exactly the right softness so the sensation is gentle on your skin? It’s like that in a beer. Or like when you go to a bedding store and find the softest blanket in the shop and they tell you it’s actually a microfleece faux cashmere throw or something (I’m sorry if I’m not up with the latest Manchester terminology; there’s a reason I’m not assistant manager at Pillowtalk). Between the malts, the fluffy carbonation and the snuggly slow bitterness, it’s a comfy beer.
****Big Nipper is another hazy from Five Barrel. This one is their core range Little Nipper Hazy IPA turned up to 8 percent ABV and 40 IBU.
With an all star hop lineup (Motueka, Citra, Eclipse, Nelson Sauvin, Galaxy), it was never going to be short on hop character. But while it’s juicy as anything, I found the flavours to be fairly straightforward rather than multi-faceted. My first impression was that of peeling a lychee, but that was then a followed by a flood of orange juice and a dry malt character like a bite of sourdough crust.
As for the label… well. I usually only say nice things about a beer’s artwork. But with this one, I feel like I was tricked into seeing more of a crab's undercarriage than I care to.**
Then we arrive at Norvell Belgian Christmas Ale, a dubbel with orange zest and nutmeg.
Look. I’m in a bit of a fix with this one. When I write up a beer, I like to give my own tasting notes and recommendations because, hey, who wants to read a repeat of what the brewery has already said? But in Five Barrel’s description of Norvell they say it “would be paired well with a mouthful of mince pies” and damn it they’re right. This abso-bloody-lutely would go well with fruit mince pies.
Maybe they’re a bit too hot and burn your mouth but you don’t care because that buttery pastry flakes apart in your mouth and the dripping sweet filling of dried fruits and spices is too good to wait for, and then you have a sip of Norvell and the sticky date pudding and fruitcake and nutmeg and zest all come together in a syrupy biscuity fruity malty layered wash of flavour that makes you forget how hot the pie is, so you have another bite and burn your mouth… and repeat until it’s all gone.
Or dropbear, if you turn the can upside down.
Though, again, I must stress that you will most likely not find a live crab in this beer.*
Published December 2, 2022 2022-12-02 00:00:00