Sunday, 17 March 2013

Lichtenstein Pale Ale 5.2%

"There are certain things that are usable forceful and vital about commercial art. We're using those things - but we're not really advocating stupidity, international teenagerism, and terrorism"
- Roy Lichtenstein

"Say goodbye to the corporate beer whores crazy for power and world domination ... Save up for a Luger, and drill the bastards."
- Brewdog website

Last Friday I had the day off work. Now, as many of you may know, I normally spend the odd days I have to myself visiting the various new pubs and breweries in the London area that have recently burst onto the scene as if seemingly to feed my own particular craving for really good beer. This spirit of exploration led to me starting this blog after a nudge from an old friend who saw the pictures and descriptions of pubs I was posting on Facebook, and consequently has enabled me to make many many new friends who share my beery passion. I'm sure you've read and heard similar stories before (possibly from me) so I'll start again.
Last Friday I had the day off work, and I wanted to do something a little different. I believe that an appreciation of good things in one aspect of your life will lead to an appreciation of good things in other areas, of which art although being personal, is one. Pop Art has been a particular interest of mine for as long as I can remember, and Roy Lichtenstein a particular hero. As a boy growing up in the 1970s, one of my best loved t-shirts depicted one of his most famous works - Whaam! so having the chance to view a collection of my favourite paintings and sculptures gathered together in at the Tate Modern was too good to resist.
If you get the chance to go and if you are at all interested in Pop Art then I would recommend that you visit, I really enjoyed it spending over an hour there however what I hadn't realised was that Brewdog had bewed a special collaboration beer with the Tate, and more particularly Tate Catering, to celebrate the exhibition. I initially thought that this must just be a re-badge of another Brewdog beer but on further investigation I found this not to be the case at all.
Brewed with rye, and with the addition of Simcoe, Amarillo and Centennial hops from the USA to celebrate Lichtenstein's heritage, this American Style Pale Ale displays another of the artists works - Torpedo...Los! - on the label, and if you are familiar with Brewdog and their antics then you'll agree that this is probably the perfect choice.
It pours a polite and deceptive grenache-grape-rose amber topped off with a pillowy off white head. The aroma has sharp grapefruit and some pine counter-balanced by some beautifully soft peach and a touch of guava with a little torn basil thrown in for good measure. I have to admit that I was expecting something much more aggressive on the nose but these lighter notes, almost like falling into some soft and juicy cushions, are rather relaxing and rather pleasant, sedate almost. Over the tongue it's as grasping and rasping as you would expect an American Pale Ale to be. An initial hit of pine and zesty grapefruit peel has a more mellow rye-bread edge, there's a huge spike of basil appearing out of nowhere and overpowering everything, then the juice hits. Peach, passion fruit and lime create an instant cooling and refreshing balm, cleansing the palate completely before back comes that rye bread, a little lathered up and soapy this time but with some sweet satsuma playing with it like a cat with ball of wool, knocking it first one way and then the next. The finish is dry, after all that's how tongue-destroying Pale Ale's are supposed to finish, but with some concentrated peach and lemon juice coming in right at the death, sticking two fingers up at the dryness and showing that you can't keep a good thing buried for long.
I have to say how pleasantly surprised and delighted I am with this beer. The way the sharp flavours appear, are squashed then reappear, only to be squashed again and again, are reflected in the juxtaposition between the revolutionary philosophy of Brewdog and the fascination and elevation of the seemingly mundane in Lichtenstein's work. Both fight for supremacy but it is ultimately the beauty and purity of the art that wins through. This is a very good beer, even by Brewdog standards (which have been a little hit and miss of late with their recent move) and although it was brewed as a one-off collaboration and celebration ale I hope it will feature as a regular. The Lichtenstein Retrospective lasts until the 27th of May 2013, but I suspect that the beer will be gone long before that.

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