Well, it must be good. Voted number 1 in the Local Taphouse’s Hottest 100 Australian Craft Beer 2010 Poll and at number 14 in the same poll last year; you don’t get those placings without being a bit spectacular.
Pale ales seem to be Australia’s unofficial craft beer of choice so it’s not like there weren’t a myriad of other Pale ale options out there for voters. So let’s see if we can’t find the secret to the McLaren Vale Beer Company’s success with its rendition.
First things first, tasting notes on the website describe the beer thus:
An Australian Pale Ale with a refreshing balance of malt, hops and yeast characters. Hop additions of Amarillo and Cascade give a wonderful fresh crisp finish with lingering flavours of citrus, passionfruit and peaches. The hop flavours and aromas are matched beautifully with the sweet honey finish from crystal malt.
All that in a sip of beer?! If the beer’s half as good as the tasting notes, it shouldn’t be half bad!
There’s strong hoppy aromas, deliciously floral in their appeal but also substantially grassy, with some honey notes coming through too. Overall impressions are that it smells relatively sweet for the style. Colour-wise it’s a rich dark golden hue and it gives a nice thick head on the pour.
I can honestly say that the anticipation of trying this beer after smelling it exceeds that of any other beers I’ve recently tasted. I have fairly high standards for pale ales in this country and I’ve already got high hopes just from the ancillaries.
On the front of the palate it’s full of sweet passionfruit notes and subtle hints of citrus. The bitterness and hops then kick in and the hops takes control of the palate with its medium floral notes. Then, as promised, the crystal malts round out the finish but the hoppiness continues to linger on the back palate.
I’ve got to say, the carbonation in this beer is absolutely spot on; it keeps the beer lively without being overbearing, and as I continue drinking there’s a consistent layer of foamy, white goodness licking the glass.
Overall, the tasting notes resembled my drinking experience fairly well and I can see why it’s gained the following it has from the craft beer cult. I also love the minimalist, matching labels of the McLaren Vale range too; possibly appeals to my inner obsessive-compulsiveness. (Maybe I was slightly biased to begin with). It’s certainly one of the best Australian Pale Ales I’ve had in a while so if you’re yet to give it a burl I suggest you get cracking.
- Genre: Pale ale
- Regionality: McLaren Vale, SA
- Strength: 4.5%
- Rating: 3 / 3 taste + 2 / 2 ancillaries = 5 / 5
- Plus: Everything, it’s all top notch
- Minus: It irks me that I had no other choice but to give this beer a 5/5