As you will have deduced from the title of this post, this evening I am drinking one of my favourite beers: Thornbridge Halcyon (7.4%). I believe I first tried it at a beer festival – at a rough guess, GBBF trade day 2010. Relatively early on in my beer-drinking life, at any rate. I had already fallen in love with Thornbridge Jaipur (5.9%) – these days, a sad shadow of its former self – but as one of the first +7% beers I’d tried, Halcyon was among my first real examples of the type of big IPA I’m always on the look out for, and every time I’ve come back to it over the years, it’s been just as gorgeous.
It pours a vibrant hazy pale gold that glows in the light, with a head of big white bubbles. Fresh, tropical flavours, and lemon peel abound on the nose. The tropical fruit and juicy citrus continue to the taste, with dry hop bitterness cutting through the sweetness, all supported by a light biscuit malt base. Unusually refreshing for the strength, and dangerously quaffable.
I’m guilty of ignoring this beer most of the time, but if I’m ever craving a sure thing on the big IPA front, I’ll pick up a bottle from Carringtons. Every time, I’m taken aback by how good it still is. I’m sure we all tend to look back fondly on beers we remember from way back when, in younger, – if you’ll forgive me – halcyon days, recalling them as being better than they were. Funny, then, that Halcyon is in fact one of the most consistent beers I’ve ever had. Every time I come back to it, my fondness for it is renewed; sadly, something I cannot say for many of the beers I tried years ago which, when tasted even a year on, just weren’t as good. Brewers change, recipes change, the quality of ingredients change, and, of course, my tastes have changed – but Halcyon is still the same as ever: a bloody lovely beer. I hope I still feel the same about it in another four years.