James Squire ‘Hop Thief No.8’ American Pale Ale


14192093_562755730575243_2803279895858050861_n“Crystal hops – developed in the US from German Hallertau hops. This variety has been likened to ‘a continental lady meets American belle’ with a delicate blend of spices and flowers – just the sort of lady James himself would have enjoyed charming! After all, a little spice in life is good for everyone”.

Served in a shaker glass. The bright golden amber complexion is capped by a finger of white fizzy head that steadily peels back and settles to a fine layer of micro-bubble. Some wavy lace patterns are left clinging to the glass as we imbibe. Brilliant clarity also, it’s literally 100% transparent. The nose is nice and floral, tipping the hat to the Crystal hops as it passes the olfactory’s. A touch of peppery spice does creep in but the sweet tropical notes of Cascade hops out-muscle it. Quite a lifted malt presence in the 8, hints of earthy grains, caramel and honey provide a nice overall balance. Definitely not creating any wow factor but it’s a nice and easy going aroma. Super smooth texture with a delicate tickle from the 40 IBU’s. Decent body with a lively Co2, maybe a tad lean but it glides fluently in to the swallow. The flavour starts off with a soft punch from the hops – a little fruity and floral with hints of bready malt and grains in the middle. A gentle hop dryness joins the party as spicy hop notes lead in to the mildly dry finish. Length is pretty good too, hanging about nicely between sips. Not a bad effort here. We often find ourselves being critical of James Squire (let’s be honest most of their beers are crap) in part, due to the fact that they sold out to Lion Nathan years ago but the hop thief has always been their go to beer for real craft beer drinkers and rarely does it disappoint. For that we must give them credit. Overall, the 8 is pretty good, it’s smooth, full flavoured and sessional. No real improvement on the 7 other than the change in hops. Not bad.