Saturday, 17 August 2013

Jack Black's Lumberjack, Butcherblock & Braai

First summery Saturday in Joburg practically cried out for an early season braai and some outdoor beer tasting. Tonight's offering, were 440ml bottles from Jack Black chilled in the ice box. I've had their lager in Cape Town and always celebrated its crisp, rounded taste but never gone out of my way to find it on the highveld. Now that Mr. Black's gone ale, I figured it was high time to taste their newest offerings.

First up was the lumberjack amber ale. As a red headed, bearded Oregonian I was understandably drawn to the bottle featuring a ginger, moustachioed woodsman. The reverse side describes its contents as having huge hop additions with piney-citrus aromas and lots of malt. 'Timber!,' I say, 'Grab the chainsaw and let's pour.' Definitely amber in the glass. First whiff and I was wondering if the braai smoke had somehow blown away the burst of promised hops. Sticking my nose deep in the glass and found a piney note, but not of the fresh cut variety. More like a tree that's aged a bit in the sun. I can see where they're going, or where I'd like them to go,with this, but it seems they've got the balance of Oregonian ingredients slightly off: more rain that hops. The result is a bit watered down although it remains fresh and refreshing.

Jack Black Goes Ale
As we reached into the ice bucket a second time, we came to suspect Jack Black has a thing for men with knives. From the forests to the abattoir with their butcher block pale ale. They don't say so, but this is a 100 percent vegetarian friendly ale (despite the cow on the front it's cascade hops that give it its flavour).  The back of the bottle promised an ale that would be less hoppy and malt forward than its sylvan cousin. When poured it had the promised colour and a firm frothy head. It had a nice full flavour without any distinct, identifiable hop notes. The malt was distant on the tongue, leaving the bitterness to rule the roost. On the nose, however, we found hints of cascade pineyness. My host described it as dry, but not in a Savannah sort of way. Result was an undeniable pale ale - nice with food but not overpowering. Did well with the roasted red roman that followed it down. Head to head, it was cleaver over chainsaw.

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