Fathers can be hard to buy for. All too often you’ll wrack your brains trying to think of something thoughtful yet reasonably-priced, before giving up and presenting him with some comedy socks and a mug proclaiming him ‘Best Dad in the World’. It doesn’t have to be this way.
If there’s one thing that 99 per cent of fathers would love to open on Father’s Day, it’s beer. Now, dad might be happy with a six-pack of red tins, but Father’s Day surely calls for something better. The world of beer is one of mind-boggling variety, and it can be difficult to know where to begin.
Well, Shetland Life is here to help. The good folks at Beervana – Shetland’s craft beer and spirit emporium – have kindly provided Shetland Life with a selection of five random beers to review, to help you elevate this Father’s Day from “Oh, socks, how… nice”, to “You are my favourite child”.
The Kernel Brewery – 5.6%
Colour: Very dark brown, with very little head to speak of.
Smell: Not very strong. Notes of hop and malt, although nothing jumped out.
Taste: Smooth, fairly refreshing. Mildly bitter, as you might expect from a brown ale. Very nice.
Notes: Nothing out-of-the-ordinary to speak of. The mission statement for this beer seems to have been “make a brown ale that could be used as the dictionary definition of brown ales”.
Verdict: Nice. Nothing fancy going on at all, but if your dad doesn’t hold with these new-fangled beers and just likes things old-fashioned, then this is right up his street.
Siren Craft Brewery – 6%
Colour: Pale and slightly cloudy, with a head that dissipates quickly.
Smell: Grapefruit, and little else.
Taste: Very tangy. The fruitiness actually masks the hops, makes it quite hard to taste the beer itself. Initially it seems quite refreshing, as if it would be best enjoyed outside on a warm summer afternoon. However, after further drinking the tartness begins to overwhelm the whole thing. By the end of the glass the citrus flavour had become too strong for this reviewer’s palette.
Notes: The label mentions that it has lactose, so this beer is not for those with a lactose-intolerance.
Verdict: If your old man really, really likes citrus fruits then he might like this on a hot day.
Holy Cowbell India Stout
Beavertown Brewery – 5.6%
Colour: Black as it should be, nice thick tan head.
Smell: Citrus notes, with a solid malt.
Taste: Very nice, with coffee and chocolate, and a slight citrus edge. Goes down slightly bitter but very smooth. This is very, very drinkable – not too rich, but just right. A top-notch stout.
Notes: A bit of research concludes that ‘India Stout’ is a made-up term – it’s a chocolate stout if anything. The can reflects the Beavertown Brewery’s approach to beer – eye-catching, interesting and colourful, definitely not of the old-fashioned “Old Jock’s Speckled Ptarmigan” style of bland beer that was for a long time ruling the waves in the UK. No controversial ingredients this time – just water, barley, hops and yeast.
Verdict: Delicious. If your dad likes stout, he’ll like this.
Duchesse de Bourgogne
Verhaeghe Victhe – 6.2%
Colour: Dark brown, light frothy head.
Smell: Fruity and malty, with a hint of prunes.
Taste: Sour. Now, some people like sour beers – lambics and so forth – that originate from Belgium. They are an extremely acquired taste, but this reviewer has never acquired it.
Notes: Despite sitting stationary for 3 days, the beer erupted on opening – it’s incredibly reactive. Massive head, too, that took ages to go down no matter how gently it was poured, making even getting to the tasting stage a trial.
Verdict: To a very small minority of dedicated beer enthusiasts this will probably come as a pleasant surprise. To the majority, however, you’ll need to know your old dad likes this style of beer before getting this one for him.
Fyne Ales – 4.4%
Colour: Pale, golden. Nice frothy head.
Smell: Light scent of hops.
Taste: Hoppy, refreshing and light. ‘Grassy’ as the beer enthusiasts would call it. A very drinkable summer beer.
Notes: Nice, accessible summer’s day drink. Nothing too exciting, in a good way.
Verdict: With our other beers, there’s an element of “If your father likes “X”, he’ll like this.” With Hurricane Jack, if your father likes beer at all, he’ll like this.
Beer Buying Tips
- When in doubt, look for a bottle with a monk on the label. 90% of the time the beer in a bottle with a monk on it will be good – e.g. St Mungo, Franziskaner.
- Avoid beers with novelty names. Good beer sells itself, and breweries give beers ‘funny’ names when they know the beer won’t shift because of the taste – e.g. Helga’s Big Jugs.
- Same goes for beers with buxom or underdressed girls on the label – e.g. Top Totty, Oakham Opportunist.
- The more abstract the label on the bottle, the more experimental the beer inside. Expect lots of interesting hops from all over the world. If you’re not used to strong flavours, then this sort of beer might be a bit much.
- If in doubt, ask the guys in Beervana for advice or a recommendation. If there’s one thing beer fans like, it’s to be asked for recommendations.
Photos: Amy Garrick-Wright