Fyne Ales are a brewery based in Cairndow, Argyll. It’s a beautiful part of the world. How small is the village? Well, Cairndow’s school closed in 1988 after the roll fell to just 3 pupils. Thanks for that gem, wikipedia.
The Fyne Ales website lures you to their beers by saying “if you like fresh, full flavoured IPAs, bursting with new world hop flavours while retaining a great balance, then these are the beers for you”. I was sent an assortment of their lighter ales to find out for myself.
Sanda Blonde (5.5%)
Light golden IPA with aromas of grapefruit and passion fruit. Flavours of gooseberry and citrus fruits are prevalent with a good citrus and hop bitterness to make a deliciously easy drinking IPA.
What a fine start to proceedings. A noseful of one of my favourite hops, New Zealand’s Nelson Sauvin, is enough to put a stupid grin on my face. A lot of beers claim that they’ll give you passion fruit flavours, but this truly does.
And yet there’s far more than a fruit fizz here. It’s a progressive IPA, which to my mind means that there’s a body here that brings a depth to the taste buds.
This is a lovely find, which I will stock up in bucketfuls when I next have a BBQ.
Hurricane Jack (4.4%)
A pale golden beer with an aroma of sweet malt and light fruity hops. Citrus flavours are prominent with tangerine notes with a subtle lemon kick on the end. Great thirst quencher and a delicious session beer.
Another blonde ale, this time with Amarillo and Cascade hops. More citrusy flavours but this tastes more like a session ale.
This started off as being an experiment from the brewery but the results were so well appreciated that it has made the cut and is now a firm favourite.
It’s lighter than the Sanda Blonde but every bit as lovely.
Delicious, fruity and with a lip-smacking hoppy bitterness to finish. I’m picturing myself drinking this in a deck chair, on a warm summer evening with the loch lapping at the shore and the kids being looked after by someone else. Aaaah. So relaxing.
How do you surpass an icon? Can you create an instant classic? At Fyne Ales we love a challenge, so we rolled up our sleeves, grabbed Jarl by the scruff of its neck, and hauled it up to a whole new lacel: an Imperial IPA, with sweet hoppy aromas followed by citrus and toffee to finish. This is Imperial-Jarl, This is Ragnarök.
If Fyne Ale’s Jarl is mild-mannered Dr Bruce Banner then Ragnarök is The Hulk.
I’ve got a thing about how I drink an IPA. When I’m cooking, I can easily grab a Jarl or Avalance and keep on going. An IPA is different. It’s for sitting down, relaxing, enjoying and savouring. And that’s exactly what I did, even though I was cooking dinner for six people. Not my fault, I explained. And this is a Double IPA.
It’s got everything and in huge amounts. A sweet malty body, tonnes of citrusy hops and it packs a punch at 7.4%. I probably would have enjoyed it more if I didn’t have hungry people shouting at me to get on with the dinner.
A dark amber coloured bittersweet ale with an aroma of caramel malt and a hint of lemon. Taste of rich caramel malts with a touch of toffee and soft citrus flavours leading to a good bitter hoppy finish.
This is old-school ale. It’s the most traditional ale here but, being a Fyne Ale, it’s still got those citrusy hops.
It was Fyne Ale’s first beer back in 2001 and you can see the path they’ve taken since then. This has less of the Fyne stamp on it than subsequent, newer beers but still ticks the strong ale boxes.
The body delivers a sweety malt rounded flavour and the bitterness of the aftertaste makes it an even taste. Isn’t that what ale is all about?
This true golden ale starts with stunning citrus on the nose. Well- balanced with good body and fruit balancing with a refreshing hoppy taste, it finishes with a long bittersweet aftertaste.
Now, this is right up my street. Cascade and Liberty hops give us beautiful citrusy hops and the right kind of grapefruit flavour.
What’s the right kind of grapefruit flavour? I’ll tell you. I went on a brewery tour once (not with Fyne Ales) and every beer was overloaded with Willamette hops. This made everything stink of grapefruit, and I don’t like grapefruit.
This, however, is how you do the grapefruit thing right. It gives just the right amount of bitterness to the flavour – any more would be too much. They’ve found the perfect balance. Beautiful.
Light and golden colour with a strong citrus and hop aroma. Citrus and grassy hop flavours dominate the palate with a light and refreshing dry finish. A superbly drinkable beer.
So here we are. Jarl. In my eyes, this is Fyne Ales pièce de résistance. This is summer in a bottle.
Close your eyes. You’re in the warm sun. You pick up a beautiful smell of fruit. The local lemon/citrus farmer has crashed his truck at the bottom of your garden. It’s a tragedy, naturally, but the aroma is nonetheless magical. Your neighbour has just cut his grass and the smells all intermingle to create a thing of wonder.
Fyne Ales have taken that moment and bottled it. It’s simply perfect. It has the new world hoppy bitterness and fruity freshness off to a tee.
It’s a perfect introduction to ales for the common or garden lager drinker too. The body is sufficient to balance out the hoppiness without being too sweet or overbearing.
You’d be hard pressed to find anything more hoppy and summery to top a glass of Jarl.
Fyne Fest is Fyne Ales annual festival celebrating beer, food, music and life. Fyne Fest 2016 is on the weekend, June 10th to 12th 2016.
There’s a site campsite, music stage, bar with acoustic stage, loads of food for all tastes and tours of the brewery. The website has some awesome photos of the weekend on the gallery page.
The festival is at the Fyne Ales Brewery in Cairndow, Argyll. It’s about an hour north-west of Glasgow through some amazing scenery and beautiful landscapes. There will also be return bus services running from Glasgow to Fynefest 2016. What’s not to love?
Website : Fyne Fest