I picked up this beer while on the road and I was immediately in a fix, dealing with cultural confusion. As a son of Scots I know that Belhaven is a fine and reputable brewer of Scots ales bought last year by Greene King...yet I know IPA is not a Scots style. I have discussed this before in relation to Deuchars IPA but this beer - or more particularly the comparison between the two beers makes their labelling as IPAs a wee bit problematic.
Look - here is what I thought about Twisted Thistle. When I had it the other night I wrote:
Caramel ale under light tan foam and a thick cling and ring. A very fruity ale, berry fruity but mainly crusty sweet country loaf of bread. Rich with some smokiness and creamy yeast. Then it opens into light dry fruit apple and raisin with a note of honey. Grapefruity hops balance but in a recessed position, a subordinate role. Definitely more like a pale ale in the zzap-tastic north-east US scale. But richer.Then note what I concluded about Deuchars in October 2004, a year and a half ago:
This very light ale for an IPA has something of the Scots roast barley bite and a slight smokey yeast there as well as a very nice bright orangy flavour...As a brew from Scotland, it will not particularly introduce you to the ales of Scotland. As an IPA, it will not particulatly introduce you to India Pale Ales. But is it a very nice soft pint, a leaver of very lovely laces...You can see they are really different ales, Deuchars being is light and crisp while the Belhaven IPA was to my mind more like a Bombardier with a lighter touch on the same heavy elements, especially the dry fruit characteristics - dry apples and light raisin rather than, say, figs and dates but still dry fruit.
Don't get me wrong. Both are good bevvies you should try. My point is IPA is becoming a very broad term, so broad I am finding it a little meaningless as an indicator of what I will find when I pour the bottle. Terms like "stout" and "mild" or "dubble" do not generally pose this problem for the thoughtful buyer facing a new beer. It reminds me a bit of white wine and the labelling of them according to grape varieties which became popular in the early 1990s. People then came to say they like Chardonnay or Merlot but then were surprised when this Chardonnay or that Merlot was nothing like the wine they could they recongnized. Like with IPA, too much is due to the actual wine making techniques for the comfort of those wine drinkers relying on the label for guidance. Key terms then become the opposite of what they were meant to be - they come to deter rather than attract.
So try Twisted Thistle. It is not a Scots style /80 or wee heavy or an IPA or like Deuchars IPA. But it is really really pleasant.