Beer Review: Box Steam Brewery Derail Ale IPA

A Wiltshire beer for a Wiltshire lad. Naturally, drawing a connection with the railways puts an image in my mind of heritage, tradition and quality. I’d never heard of this beer but the fact that it was brewed just a short distance from the place of my birth, and appealed to my inner child that loved steam railways, it drew my attention. But does it taste of coal and smell of sulphur? Sadly (and perhaps thankfully!) not.

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Profile: Indian/English Pale Ales are fast replacing lagers as the nation’s favourite beer. Indeed, craft ales have been making headway on mass produced beers for many years now with most areas setting up microbreweries to impart their own additions to the great beer-loving nation of England. “Beautifully Engineered in Wiltshire” at Box, site of the famous tunnel and hill. Based on traditional Indian Pale Ales, it seeks to stamp a West Country flavour of its own.

Scent: Pales are known for having a light scent, yet even for IPA’s it has a sweet scent. I would say it is quite flowery and grassy (yes, the lawn stuff) with a hint of fruit that I can’t quite define – perhaps mild orange like tangerine? It’s not quite strong enough to call it citrusy as it is not all that acidic. Tangerine, with its gentle, sweeter flavour is closer to the mark.

Colour: When poured, the product is amber in colour, almost like a copper but a little duller and darker than that. There is barely any fizz so it looks like a light ale with a medium body. Nothing really stands out about it purely from the colour aside from that it is slightly darker than most IPAs.

Flavour: At first sip, it simply tastes like a medium bodied, slightly heavy ale. It’s heavier than most IPAs I have tasted, but that’s a matter of personal taste and it is very tasty and quite refreshing. I think I expected something lighter based on a reading of the label. There is a citrus undernote again, and it’s stronger than the scent which is probably dulled by the flowery note. Here, the flavour is clearer and it is more like grapefruit than tangerine. Surprisingly, there is a delicate hop aftertaste. Why is it surprising? It’s hop that gives beer its bitterness and you can certainly taste hop, but it’s not overpowering as a long note.

Verdict: This is a very good beer to drink from late winter into early spring when it’s still quite cold but you need something thirst quenching. The scent and the flavours have “spring” written all over it. A happy medium, then, that is good for drinking at any time of the year and has some great flavours.

Marks out of 10: 8. Nothing about this really reminds me of the railways despite the label, I know the producer is going for the local heritage market, but I would expect some hint of smokiness or a raw flavour for authenticity of the tradition of age. That said, it is a great beer that will appeal to most people.

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