So, if you're a regular reader to this here site (and if not, why not!?), you'll recall me writing a rather gushing review of AND Union's Sunday Pale Ale a few weeks ago. I waxed lyrical about it, mentioning the excellent flavour and aroma and mentioned that it was the best beer I'd ever tasted. And all of this is still true - it's still my favourite beer (so far - there are loads I haven't tried yet! Whoop!) But here's the thing; in a parallel universe, somewhere where - God forbid it - Sunday Pale Ale doesn't exist (gimme a second till I get over that last thought), that article would have been written about today's subject, namely Pistonhead Full Amber.
I'm usually pretty gung-ho when it comes to choosing my beers. When I'm shopping, I use the shotgun method of selecting what my tipple will be for the evening; namely, hit as wide an area as possible, making sure not to pick the same one twice. It's pretty rare for me to actually come away from the shop with something that I've already had before, which is why it's even more ridiculously rare for me to actually have not one, but two beers that I enjoy so much that I'd go as far as calling my 'regular' ales. For this rare alignment of the cosmos to have happened, means that these two beers must be exceptional.
Full Amber has been on my regular drink list for a couple of months now, owing to a chance encounter in the local Co-op. I had what's commonly known around these parts as 'an empty' (the missus was away for the weekend) and had decided to partake in the ale like it was 1997 again. After running out of beers and seriously thinking about opening a bottle of rum to keep my buzz going, I decided better and wandered along to the local supermarket, which was about the only place still open at the time. I figured I would check to see what they had in stock, although by this point anything would have done - probably even *shudder* - Tennents. I wasn't expecting much of a selection to choose from so imagine my surprise when I was happily proven wrong.
I burned through the other beers pretty quickly and came to my last can, the Full Amber. First impressions were pretty good; the can is rather cool looking gold-coloured number with the Pistonhead skull logo emblazoned on it. I wasn't entirely sure what to expect - I'd had the black-canned Pistonhead Kustom Lager before and wasn't that enamoured with it (I've since revisited that drink and found that I must've been tripping that time, as it's actually pretty decent - for a lager). After the first sip, I was taken aback - this was something special. It had a strong orangey-citrus vibe mixed with a pleasing maltiness, with a big spicy, bitter, almost harsh, kick on the way down. Suffice to say, I polished the can off pretty quickly and decided that I'd finish the evening on a high note and head to bed.
Despite feeling a bit worse for wear later the next day, when I finally decided to surface for air, the one thing that stuck with me about the previous night, was just how good Full Amber was. I made a point of memorizing the name and I've been hooked on it since. And this may be why it's only my second best beer, rather than my first.
Let me explain. The local shop, about 5 minutes walk away, always has a stash of it and lucky for me, no-one local seems to realize how good it is, so there's never a shortage. For this reason, I've drunk a LOT of Full Amber recently. I'll go in for a couple of things non-beer related and end up coming home with a couple of tins. This familiarity has made drinking Full Amber less of a special occasion than Sunday Pale Ale - which is fairly difficult to find around these parts. I don't want to say that familiarity has bred contempt in this case, but I think my regular overindulgence of Full Amber has meant that it's become less of an event than cracking open a can of Sunday Pale Ale.
Now don't read that last paragraph and think that I'm sick of Full Amber. I'm not. It's a fantastic ale and I plan on drinking a metric shit ton of it over the course of my lifetime (which may not be long at this rate...). We're comparing two amazing beers here - Full Amber and Sunday Pale Ale. It's like having to choose between a Ferrari and a Lamborghini. They're both sensational cars, that have their own pro's and con's, but which ultimately, will put a huge smile on your face if you drive them. And that's the case with my two favourite beers. Yeah, Sunday Pale Ale edges it ahead of Full Amber on my top beer list (which currently only has two beers on it), but who cares? No matter which of the two I end up drinking, I'll have a massive grin on my face. And if by chance I end up having both at the same time, that will be one fan-fucking-tastic evening.