Total Score: 7.2/10
I was told by Ant (co-owner/manager of Plonk) that this new up-and-comer Wolf Of The Willows was one to look out for, and coming up to my 500th review I’ve been a bit selective with the beers I’m drinking (prepare to see some outlandishly BIG beers being reviewed with another massive drop for #500). So here we are reader: Wolf Of The Willows XPA – which stands for “Extra Pale Ale”. Extra pale in colour or extra hops? We’ll soon see [actually I just read a Q&A on Crafty Pint where the brewer answers: Extra in both pale colour and hops – correct answer WOTW].
Poured from a 500ml bottle into a nonic pint.
A: Clear light golden body with a big 2cm billowy white head. My preference (as you well know by now) is for non-filtered brews, especially with Ales. 5/10.
S: Zesty lemon hops provide a solid, though not exciting, backbone for some light biscuity malts. There is a hint floral lavender and a touch of pepper as well, however the overall aroma is one of a light and crisp Pale Ale. 6/10.
T: Crisp and clean up front, followed by that biscuity middle and finished with zesty lemon hops. The finish is as dry as the Sahara which would make any Japanese Lager brewer jealous. There is a note of herbal hops, something between coriander and sage floating around in the background. I don’t get the passionfruit the label describes – but that could be due to the fact that I just had a sample of my homebrewed Galaxy dry-hopped Pale Ale beforehand which is a passionfruit assault on the senses. A second sip reveals a clever subtlety and more earthy characters. 7/10.
M: Mid to light bodied with a medium, creamy carbonation. The carbonation really works well with the dry/moreish qualities of this brew. 8/10.
D: It’s not often an old beer pro like me realises that there was actual yeast in the bottle by the end of the pour… I was surprised by this fact due to the clarity of the first half. I was also surprised by how the palate changed from lemon to grapefruit as the glass drained (though this can be explained by the flocculation of yeast in the second pour which added the sour yeast characters). This is not your ordinary Australian Pale Ale, and some will say it needs more hops, but ultimately for me it is a nice change of pace, and it goes down real easy. 9/10.
Food match: A rare cooked wagyu beef steak with celeriac mash and roasted asparagus with a creamy garlic and thyme jus.