Let's get this out of the way right at the start: this wasn't planned. It wasn't my intention to have two consecutive Black Sheep Brewery reviews. We're not being sponsored by Black Sheep to write about their beers (although, if they want to get in touch...). It's just a happy coincidence that this has happened. Really!
Yesterdays review of Black Sheep's Choc and Orange Stout was something that I'd been planning for a couple of weeks now, but - due to laziness - hadn't gotten round to. Trying to keep the momentum going on the site, I'd quickly bashed that review together, then opened my fabled notebook to see what beer was freshest in my mind for the next review. And that beer - Reaper - was the one chosen.
So Morrison's is getting a mention here, as it was in yesterday's review. Again, I promise I'm not under their corporate heel (yet) - it just happens to be the shop that I buy a lot of my beer from. I slagged them recently on Instagram and Twitter, as recently their craft beer section seems to have taken a bit of a beating and against the odds, is shrinking. Despite this, they still surprise me from time to time with a decent selection. Also, if they want to contact me (or Scott) to offer us some free beer, we will grudgingly accept...
But back on track (for a few seconds at least). What is Reaper? Well, Reaper is a Halloween-themed seasonal beer put out by Black Sheep to celebrate that ghoulish night, which (according to their site) is only available from the 25th September to the end of November (so now then). I haven't seen the beer before this year, so I'm not sure if it's a brand new beer, or if they produce it every year at the same time. Answers on a postcard (or in the comments below).
NOTE: Untappd seems to suggest that it's been around since at least 2014, so there you go.
The fact that it's only available for a short period of time - a period which has about a day and a half to run - means it may be difficult to get hold of this year, which is a shame, as it's actually pretty good. It also won't help you if you stay in the area served by Morrison's in Dumbarton, as I bought the last 3 bottles there last night...
Described on the bottle as a '3 Hopped Red Rye Ale', (the three hops being Summit, Amarillo and Chinook, incase you were wondering) Reaper comes in at 4.1% ABV and pours a lovely ruby red colour with a good head on top. Looking at it through the glass held up to light, it looks almost pink - a bit like rosé wine. Remember that comparison for later.
First impression on tasting is good. Although only 4.1%, to me, it did taste a bit stronger. Not overwhelming - not to the point where I had to stop drinking - just enough to make me take notice. It has a really clean, almost fruity flavour. I get a hit of malt, as expected, but there's something else there... an almost wine-like, grape flavour - like rosé wine (see, I told you to remember the comparison).
I'm not a wine drinker. I have dabbled in the past, generally when I've been skint and probably more likely from the tonic variety. But there was a (short) period of time a few years back which saw me try out a really cheap bottle of rosé from Aldi and that's what this beer reminds me of (the flavour, not the cheapness).
Now, I don't do food recommendations on this site - and nor am I going to start them - mainly because they'd go along the lines of 'goes well with Spicy Nik-Naks'. But in this case I'll make an exception; I was sitting eating my dinner while quaffing this ale and I tell you what - this went down really well with pasta and meatballs! If you are a wine drinker and you're looking for an alternative drink to have with food, I really think this could be it. It's light, it's fizzy, it's fruity - all descriptions you could level towards your wine of choice. And who knows - you might actually find you prefer beer instead of that grape malarkey and see the light.
It's a beer that also seems to get better the further down the bottle (or glass) you get. I've found that some beers, when you get towards the dregs, start to taste really bitter. I'm not sure if that's just because some of the sediment drops to the bottom or something, but Reaper is as good at the end as it was at the beginning.