The Swift Half – Marble’s Dobber IPA
Gipsy Hill15 September 2015
Let’s face it, ‘balanced’ is not the most exciting of words. ‘Balanced’ has never been cool. In a twisted parallel universe ruled by adjectives, not people, ‘balanced’ would be living with his parents in his 30s, his Friday nights spent voluntarily updating Wikipedia, while vainly attempting to construct his own light saber.
But I’m here to tell you that, contrary to the rush of narcolepsy it can so easily induce, ‘balanced’, in the right context, can be truly wonderful. The harmony of a choir; the symmetry of a magnified snowflake; two lovers, tightly intertwined before a raging fire. Perhaps not that last one.
But certainly in reference to beer. For a balanced beer can elicit genuine excitement, it really can. And it’s not hard to see why. It’s as if your tongue has several erogenous zones, each of which can only be triggered provided the others are stimulated at the exact same moment and to the exact same degree. Too bitter on one side, and the sweetness is lost. Too much fruit here and the roasted notes seem out of place. It is only by arousing each of these zones in harmony that one attains that climax so many of us making the stuff strive for. And you thought brewers couldn’t be sensual?
But are balanced beers always great beers? Certainly not. Reduce the competing flavours of a tasty balanced beer by the same measure and what you’re left with is beer just as proportional as it was, only stripped of its character. For a balanced beer to be great, its main components can’t be shrinking violets. I much prefer it when they’re at each other’s throats.
Marble’s Dobber is a great balanced beer. An unmistakable biscuit base vies for attention with a light grapefruit, pine note. A judicious amount of resin too. By no means an explosion on the palate (for that, try Gosnell’s London Mead), more a rounded gratification for those taste receptors. Its appearance speaks clearly of what’s coming. A darkish golden hue, perfect carbonation and splendid lacing on the glass. Some bottle conditioners miss the mark fizz-wise. Unsurprisingly, the veterans nail it. Look no further for a brew that demonstrates the benefits of a choice addition of New World hops to an otherwise British beer.
At Gipsy Hill, we tend to associate moreish-ness with beers that are less premium in strength. Indeed, it’s largely what we’re about. But at 5.9%, this one is ominously session-able. One or two of these of an evening and I’m still up with my three-year-old at 5.45am the next day, avidly re-enacting the closing scenes of Frozen. Three or four and I’m slinging her the I-pad for a dose of the real thing so I can roll over and nurse my poor cranium. Every so often that’s got to be fine though…right?