Caught by the River

Pint By The River – Dark Star Tripel (8.5%)

Ben McCormick | 9th February 2011

by Ben McCormick.

With eyes like two halves of a pithy blood orange and a bellyful of wind that’s making sounds to give singing, diving, pilot whales a run for their watery money, I stroll into The Rake in Borough hoping for some solace. Instead, I find Dark Star Tripel.

Dark Star brewery started out in the basement of Brighton’s Evening Star pub before moving first to Ansty, then to Partridge Green, West Sussex. Their flagship Hophead beer is now fairly widely available, but the range doesn’t stop there. From Porter to American Pale Ale, Dark Star crafts crisp, delicious ales that rarely disappoint.

So let’s forgive, for a moment, the Germanic label and the slight cloudiness and even the fact the brewery appears to be named after a geeky comic (cue hatemail). The first smell that hits you is blossoming apple orchards. It’s a sweet, bucolic air that drifts off the top, aided this evening by a whipping wind that makes the head skitter like prancing white cap seahorses atop choppy waves. A sign of things to come.

The first gasp rips into you like a Gauloise Filtre after a heavy night, laying down the sharp, hoppy foundations for what’s next. And that’s a malty maelstrom that swirls over the tongue and threatens to overwhelm. Back snap the hops with a taste that’s a weird hybrid of Fisherman’s Friends and Werther’s Originals. Then again come the malts. Insistent. Undeterred. Leaving their sticky residue clasping every pebble of your tastebud shingle beach.

It’s not standard Dark Star fare, really. But it’s impressive. A big beached whale of an ale; awesome, yet slighly unwelcome if left there for too long. You do need something sharp and weaker to wash it down with. And after an entire pint of the stuff, I’m as battered as a Cape Cod shoreline in hurricane season.