Red Cat Contemplation American Brown Ale (500ml, 4.7% ABV)
Brown. It’s not the most inspiring colour, is it? Wouldn’t you prefer a golden or ruby ale, or something else named after some precious material? Why drink brown? For the same reason you’d eat chocolate or freshly baked bread – taste. Give me great-tasting sludge over pretty blandness any day.
There are two famous brown ales in Britain – the southern Manns Brown (light and sweet), and the northern Newcastle Brown (stronger and hoppier). Contemplation isn’t really like either of them. It comes from Red Cat’s “Untamed” range, where they experiment with mixing up world beer styles and creating something a bit different. The label features a charming cartoon of a man and a cat enjoying their last few moments together on earth before an exploding sun engulfs them. Bless.
US hops (the Mosaic, Chinook and Columbus varieties) give the beer a complex aroma of tropical fruits, while the malt provides an underlying chocolate character.
A smooth texture makes this an easy one to drink. It has the characteristic nutty malt of a brown ale, with just a hint of Marmite* and a prominent sizzle of mango hops on the tongue. The finish is dry, spicy and long.
The Red Cat Brewery in Winchester is one I’ve only recently become aware of, but on the evidence of this beer, I’ll be trying some more.
* I hate Marmite. “The growing up spread,” they used to call it. The throwing up spread, more like. But I digress – the amount of Marmite flavour in this beer was fine, even for my contrarian tastes.