Friday, 23 August 2013

Boston's IPA and Pumpkin Ale at the Foundry

How better to spend a weeknight evening than bunking work and heading off to find something frothy at The Foundry. On arrival I discovered plenty of others had the same idea. By six, the casual tables near the pavement were all but full with dinner tables long sold off to bidders. The real lucky ones were already at the bar, part of a private function for some office or the other. Working and drinking together with management's blessings seems how things should be done.

The Foundry After Dark
I eventually found a stool-less high table on the enclosed alfresco stoop. Before long the attentive waiter, Thoko, quietly slipped a couple stools from under the drunk office workers without them noticing. In the meantime, I ordered two from Cape Town's 'Boston' brewing: Van Hunk's Pumpkin Ale and the Boston IPA. There were another eight South African beers on tap: nothing too unusual but a broad mix of lagers and light ales. With the addition of a stout, all but the least adventurous tipplers will find something to their liking. I just snacked this time, but the cafe menu is filled with enough fancy casual fare for a long evening of tasting. The stylish interior and dim lights also mean your neighbour's unlikely to keep track of how many you've had.

To the beers: although the full moon lent the street a spooky halo, Halloween was still too far off to start with pumpkin. Instead I whet my palate with the IPA. Having tasted Boston's entry into the field from a bottle some time before, I feared it would be another lager in ale's clothing. Moving in on the newly poured draft version, my nose positively prickled as it picked up a good dose of fresh citrus hoppiness, the right kind of start for this, the king of beer varietals. There were definitely strong hops in the taste but the crisp, citrus was nowhere to be seen, tasted or even smelled again. In its wake was a malty back of the mouth bitterness which, while not unpleasant, didn't call me back for more. Overall, the beer would be better slotted as an ESB or pale ale. So while not a lager by a long shot, it's unlikely to reach the podium in an IPA drink off.

Boston Brew with Snacks
With half the IPA left in the glass, I turned to orange with the only pumpkin ale I know that's brewed in South Africa. Given that pumpkin (or at least butternut) accompanies almost every meal in these parts, I'd have thought people would be brewing pumpkin beer, vodka or mampoer in every alley, shebeen and empty oil drum. This, however, is no bathtub brew. As it should be, Boston has taken inspiration from pumpkin pie. Both the nose and mouth got filled with cinnamon, a bit of nutmeg and enough  pumpkiny flavour to satisfy the Green Goblin. While pie may be what comes to mind on first sip, the dryness and balance make this a fine beer to quench your thirst. It's lively, refreshing and bursting with flavour. By the bottom of the glass I found hints of Hoegaarden and its characteristic coriander. This may not be right for a long night out or every night, but it comes highly recommended diversion from the norm and the evening's champion.

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