I’ll admit I struggle a little this time of year. The last dregs of the Christmas holidays have trickled down the drain and it can feel like there’s little other to look forward to than long nights and cold days. Winter is here.
While I applaud those folks who take it upon themselves to take the month off booze – some even raising money for charity, which is no bad thing – for the rest of us there is always beer. Delicious, tasty beer. Now is the time to break out those strong dark ales that have been squirreled away at the back of your beer cupboard for far too long. I’m starting with Grease Monkey, an old ale from New Zealand’s Panhead Custom Ales.
A great deal was made of Panhead’s sale to the Lion Group last year, but in my opinion it’s had zero discernable impact on the quality of its beers thus far. Its zingy, tropical fruit packed New Zealand hopped pilsner has always been a particular favourite of mine and it continues to shine.
Grease Monkey is an altogether different beast, however. This viscous, black liquid pours like an oil slick in a glass. Aromas of leather and tobacco mingle with those of molasses and burnt muscovado sugar. To taste it's toffee sweet at first but this is almost immediately followed by a slick wave of herbaceous bitterness. That tobacco note then returns in the finish to leave a pleasing dryness.
Grease Monkey is a beer that really benefits from having some time to warm a little and open up once its been poured. So maybe try giving it no more than 30 minutes in the fridge before you open it and for maximum effect pour it into a wide brimmed, bowl shaped glass. You won’t be halfway through the bottle before any winter blues you were shouldering begin to ebb away.
Music Pairing: Flyying Colours – It’s Tomorrow Now
I figured that as it’s a new year I’d turn the spotlight onto to some new music instead of relying on a classic. Spotify’s insanely good Discover Weekly algorithm has been throwing some great new music my way over the last 12 months, so it makes sense to share some of my discoveries.
Flyying Colours formed in Melbourne, Australia, back in 2011 and released their second album “Mindfullness” at the back end of last year. As a record it’s a reverb-drenched, shoegazer's dream, recalling My Bloody Valentine, And You Will Know Them By The Trail of Dead and The Cure. I’ve had the album on repeat for around the last two weeks, so here’s hoping you dig it as much as I do.
Find more from beer writer Matthew Curtis at his excellent beer blog, Total Ales, Good Beer Hunting and on Twitter @totalcurtis. Get Panhead Grease Monkey and the rest of the Panhead range exclusively to the UK at our shop or online to get it delivered to your door.