Pure Gold – Itchen Valley (500ml bottle, 4.8% ABV)
The phrase ‘pure gold’ always reminds me of Lord Percy’s attempt at alchemy in Blackadder II. Rather than a nugget of gold, he ends up with a splat of green.
Thankfully, Itchen Valley’s Pure Gold makes no such mistake, and looks every bit how it sounds. A soon-to-be-gone fizz leaves a still surface with an aroma of honey sweetness and some fruitiness that I can’t quite pin down.
This is not a beer that can be judged from a couple of sips. At first the flavour is mild and elusive, perhaps in part due to the unusual combination of hops from the Czech Republic and the US. But give it time and more and more tastes develop: bready malt and oranges, then herbal spices and a peppery quality, and finally tangy treacle tart.
Despite having abandoned the head, the bubbles make a return on the tongue, joining a syrupy mouthfeel that makes the beer slide down without any protest. The aftertaste is as bittersweet as a single by The Verve.
Amazing, really, what can be created from just water, crushed grain, the flowers of a plant and some helpful microorganisms. It’s almost like alchemy.
Written by Richard Salsbury