On a muggy and humid Christmas summer's day, a selection of beers was bestowed upon me and my face lit up with glee. If something about muggy, humid and summer doesn't sound right to you, that's because I spent it way down in the southern hemisphere on the green plateaus of Johannesburg, South Africa.
With only days until my return to Europe and limited baggage allowance I was faced with the unenviable task of devouring as many of my newly-acquired brews as possible, but one that made it the 6,000 miles back with me was this local creation.
Have a peek at Red Rock's website and you'll notice that crossing the rock-n-roll ram on the label is a pair of drumsticks, and yet mine, curiously, featured nails in their place. Either way, I was eager to tear off the precautionary explosion-preventative sellotape and see what it was about.
Cracking the cap off the embossed, uniquely shaped bottle revealed a dark brown rusty-nail coloured liquid topped with an off-white head. On the nose I picked up fragrant earthy notes from the Simcoe hops, which, coupled with the sweet rich caramel malt aromas reminded me of an English bitter with a potent New World twist.
One swig later the hops and malts came at my tongue like drumsticks on a snare drum and mingled with each other like a party of rutting rams: juicy pine resin was joined by hints of smooth mango and lychee to the contrasting backdrop of thick treacle and chewy licorice, ending with a faint, lightly dry black tea finish. The ever developing depth of character and complexity had me making sloppy tongue-clicks the whole way through to savour every tang.
Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised by Nine Inch Ale. Rich and unique but very drinkable, it's a lekker dop that'll go a treat with some boerie on the braai.
Overall rating 8/10