Here’s an identity crisis: the Scottish India Pale Ale bought in France. I came across the Belhaven Twisted Thistle IPA in the Eurotunnel duty free in Calais and snapped it straight up. I love India Pale Ales (IPAs). They’re often the richest, most hoppy, most zesty of ales and they’re making a real comeback.
The Belhaven Twisted Thistle IPA is really interesting. It kind of sits between the ‘old fashioned’ IPA, like the famous Worthington White Shield, with its full-bodied zestiness and the modern IPAs, such as the bold Kernel IPAs, Punk IPA by Brewdog or Goose Island IPA, with their über-hopped richness.
The key difference between Belhaven’s Twisted Thistle IPA is that, unlike the craft IPAs I’ve mentioned, it’s a real session ale. A pleasant, quaffable, flavoursome session IPA: something surely most beer lovers crave!
Let’s start with the colour: rich amber, almost like honey. It’s enticing already with its fizzy head which quickly gives way to give a flat, golden mixture. The nose is strong and complex. There is maltiness, honey, grapefruit sharpness. It’s the Cascade and Challenger hop mix that gives it an extra hoppy note, too. The taste is similarly complex. There’s caramel, honey and a sharp grapefruit finish at the back of the tongue. That same exotic fruitiness lingers on your palate for what seems an eternity. You simply can’t put this one down; I guess that’s what nearly 300 years of brewing experience brings. Good work, Belhaven!
Look: Rich amber
Smell: Strong, complex, dull citrus
Taste: Caramel, malt, sharp finish
Our verdict: The beer lover’s dream: a flavoursome, full-bodied, quaffable IPA. Bring it on!