Review: Rhubarb Pale

rhubarb-pale-ale-canIn the craft beer arms race, the once humble ale has to go through more and more variations, both in flavour, production technique and social awareness. Full marks to Wild Card Brewery’s Rhubarb Pale, produced under the Unite Local logo, which sees ‘brewsters’ (that’s female brewers to the uninitiated) gather together on International Women’s Day to call for equality by brewing beer and bringing attention to their gender. Some might argue that the real road to equality is to not make a big deal about your chromosomes, but simply to be judged, possibly anonymously, on the quality of your work, but that’s a discussion for another day.

Anyway, this is a thoroughly hip beer, as you can probably tell by the fact that it comes in a can rather than a bottle (the sign of either pissy lager or the crasftiest of craft beers these days) and has designer artwork that doesn’t even bother to tell you what the hell iit is until you look at the small print. Well, it worked for Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and New Order I suppose.

Of course, none of this will matter a jot to you if you don’t care for fruity beer in general and rhubarb in particular. I’m fond of the former, but no fan of the latter, and so perhaps I’m not really the target audience for this – but my excitement at a ‘newly launched today!’ sign in Oddbins overcame my suspicions, and I decided to give it a go.

The 4.8% beer is suitably pale and cloudy, and has a slightly tart taste that I would assume is the rhubarb. I say ‘assume’ because frankly, if I was given this in a blind test, I wouldn’t have pegged it as remotely fruity. To be honest, it tastes like many another pale ale, which is to say pleasantly drinkable, but certainly not exceptional. And given the hype, I was hoping for something a bit more remarkable, especially as I generally enjoy Wildcard’s output. It would be unfair to call it all mouth and trousers – if this was the only pale on tap in a pub, I wouldn’t have any grumbles. But equally, I wouldn’t suggest forgoing your chosen pale (or chosen fruit beer for that matter) to buy it, no matter how fancy the packaging.

DAVID FLINT

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