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In this blog’s previous incarnation, I reviewed Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale, and wasn’t overwhelmingly positive about it. It seemed pedestrian and, from where I sit in Expensive Land (aka Australia), not worth the asking price. This one, however, puts paid to that. Now, I’m a massive hophead and I love IPAs, so I suppose my bias is a little apparent, but this was very special. Wonderful aromatic hops on the nose, strong (and I mean bloody strong) hops which still has enough of a malt presence to ensure you’re not making a lemon face, and one of the chalkiest (in a good way), driest finished I’ve ever experienced in a beer. If this, like all imported beers, were not so ludicrously dear over here, I’d happily make it a regular in my beer cupboard. It’s summer here now, and for my mind, nothing goes down better on a balmy night like this than a good, hoppy ale. It also makes me want to try the rest of their range.
For this American classic, I thought pairing it with a classic American roots artist would be the way to go. Ry Cooder’s influence on roots music, and guitar music in general, is undisputed. The man is a stringed-instrument genius, and one of those rare guitarists who can make a guitar really sing, especially when he played slide. On this album, his second, he took other people’s songs and put his own eclectic mark on them. This is one of the few instances where covering Johnny Cash worked (his version of “Hey Porter” is weirdly appropriate). He’s not much of a vocalist, but when you can play guitar like that, who the hell needs vocals?