Reading This Now – in 2016:
“The other worldly, twisting warren on the label is reminiscent of a secret path through an ephemeral forest, with one signpost – ‘Dark Ale’.” – oh my good god I sound like a complete bell end. Ephemeral forest??!! I really wanted to delete that, but thought I’d leave it in for humour’s sake. I mention Jefferson Airplane and get a bit annoyed about certain beers being labelled ‘for girls’ at the end, so this shunts the post up a notch.
Back in 2013:
When you’re choosing a bottle of wine, you are supposed to investigate further than the name and the picture on the label. I once spent way too much on a bottle of wine just because it was called ‘Gladiator’ and had a naked redheaded woman riding a bike on the front. It smelled like cat food and tasted like the same cat food once it had traversed through to the other end. I swore that I had learned my lesson.
However, going by label and name with beer can generally be a safer bet. An interesting picture on the label and a witty name generally means that the brewers are young, innovative dynamos who are trying new things, pushing the boundaries and hopefully what lies beyond the boundary tastes pretty good.
Two years ago I was in a pub in Perth. It was a sunny day, the sky was blue, there was a leafy deck involved and I was selecting a beer. What a perfect afternoon! I was about to ask for a pint of Little Creatures pale ale, when the White Rabbit dark ale caught my eye. Things involving the words ‘White’ and ‘Rabbit’ tend to point to good things. Alice in Wonderland, for example. ‘White Rabbit’ by Jefferson Airplane is a great song. So far, things were looking good. Quirky name – check. Original picture – check. The other worldly, twisting warren on the label is reminiscent of a secret path through an ephemeral forest, with one signpost – ‘Dark Ale’.
The White Rabbit Brewery was born out of Little World Beverages, the same company which gave us Little Creatures. The brewery in Healesville, Victoria produces Pipsqueak cider, as well as the White Rabbit light and dark ales. Now that LWB is owned by Lion Nathan, is it any surprise that I recently saw White Rabbit bottles glinting behind the bar of The Slaughtered Lamb in London?
White Rabbit dark isn’t a heavy going, cloying dark ale which you chew through and then leave the pub because you feel like you’ve sat through a 17 course degustation menu. It’s surprisingly light, the kind of dark ale which you could sip in the sun without breaking a sweat. Sitting at 27 on the IBU scale, it is relatively mild in terms of bitterness, relying more on the caramel roasted malt flavours. It has still had enough hops thrown at it that it has the comforting feel of a well rounded beer, whilst still being refreshing enough that you could sit on it all night.
With pretty much next to no head, which then tends to disappear altogether, the beer pours out like the rich mahogany of Ron Burgundy’s apartment.
It is tasty, it is light, it does have satisfying hints of clove, dark spiced fruit and the sweetness of that caramel malt. I’ve heard it described as ‘dark ale for girls,’ which is an altogether patronising statement – its dark ale for boys and girls that don’t necessarily like dark ale. Basically, its dark ale that doesn’t taste like dark ale – although it still tastes good. They should probably put that gem of a conclusion on the label.