Thursday, 12 January 2012

Kipling - Thornbridge Brewery - A foolish tale

When I first started drinking proper beer, something initially made me stay away from the Thornbridge beers in Waitrose.  Part of the reason was the higher ABV that came with the Jaipur and the Kipling (the only ones they carried), because I was still quite interested in being able to get three or four beers down my neck in a single sitting.

Part of it was beer ignorance as well, as I dipped my toe into the beer water, I didn't think that I would be able to appreciate a beer that was at least 20p more than some of the others, besides which, the range of beers had plenty to keep me amused.

Then one day last summer, I threw caution to the wind and I picked up a Jaipur and a Kipling.

Here beginneth the lesson:

That evening, I cracked open the Jaipur and was blown away (I'll write about Jaipur another day), but what it also blew away was my ability to really appreciate the Kipling.   Kids, if you are doing this at home and trying them for the first time, don't try and drink them in this order.

Luckily, a chance for redemption came my way.  The next week, they had run out of Jaipur, so I thought I'd give the Kipling a proper go, reasoning that although it wasn't great, it was still pretty tasty.

When I drank it that evening, I was immediately seized with the urge to pour a large amount of (metaphorical) egg over my face.

Not only had I been not buying this stuff for a long time, I had inadvertently written it off as a junior partner to Jaipur.

When I guested on the Real Ale Guide (on youtube - check it out HERE ) - I said it was the smarter younger brother of Jaipur.  I'd like to revise that comment now, it's the smarter, younger, step-brother.

It's a different style, it's a hoppy golden ale, but it's surfing perilously close to the outer borders of an IPA, it's still big and hoppy and swaggering all over the place with it's amazing fluffy white head, a cracking grapefruit and gooseberry bitter taste.  It's carbonated with the tiniest of bubbles so doesn't even for a second get near bloating you and you would never know that it weighs in at 5.2% if someone gave you it blind, the alcohol burn just isn't there.  I have recommended this in the supermarket when I've seen people looking lost and I really regret doing it now as it means there is more competition for it.

This is the first beer that I ever felt like giving a 10 out of 10.   It's a beer that you can sit down with for an hour and sip at, experiencing the range of smells that come out of it as the temperature changes.  Equally, it's a jauntily refreshing pint that you could sink just to quench your thirst on a hot day.

So if you are going to the shops later and you see some of this and you haven't had it, buy it, immediately.  I guarantee you that you will be back the following day looking for more, like a zombie hunting for Brains (ooh zinged another brewery there, controversial).

So, in summary
Lesson 1 - Buy this beer ( a lot)
Lesson 2 - Enjoy this beer (a lot)
Lesson 3 - Don't tell anyone else about this beer (it can just be our dirty little secret)



  1. I'm also pretty new to craft beer in the relative scheme of things and I often used to start with a really hoppy brew without realising how much it recked my palette... Still when I realised what I was doing it gave me a good excuse to go and try lots of brews that I had originally dismissed beforehand!

    I Absolutely love Thornbridge beers and I too prefer Kipling to Jaipur, have you tried Raven yet? That stuff is mindblowing...

  2. It's a useful lesson to learn, but I bet people make that mistake all the time. If people are going to get into this scene, I think there is merit in starting slowly and working your way up to top beers like this.

    I haven't got hold of a Raven yet, but just tried their St Petersburg Imperial Stout, now that is some beer, get it if you can.