Two from Peterborough's finest today. Oakham Inferno first and, despite the bluster of the name, it pours a sickly pale yellow, looking for all the world like a cheap adjunct lager. The aroma comes quickly to the rescue, however, pushing out a peach and mango scent that beckons the drinker in. The carbonation is a little high and the texture a little thin, even at 4.4% ABV, but the flavour more than makes up for it: a fruit explosion of pineapple and mandarin to begin with, then taking a sharp turn into spiky grapefruit and lemon bitterness. Zing by the bagful. The malt contributes as little to the flavour as it does to the colour, with just a very slight sweetness under the hops, adding a touch of orange barley sweets. Maybe a little bit on the bitter side for me to drink a lot of it but it's a wonderful wake-up call to tired tastebuds.
So Scarlet Macaw has a tough act to follow. A smidge more welly at 4.8% ABV and it's darker too: orange, shading to amber. No fireworks in the aroma this time and the flavour is definitely softer and more nuanced, a gentle jaffa orange fruitiness, though once again it gets increasingly pithy after the first few seconds. A base of digestive biscuits hovers in the background and the body is nicely full.
These two aren't actually all that different from each other, and they're both first rate hop-forward session ales. Choosing one over the other is a question of mood: the lively Inferno when you want to quaff something stimulating and the Macaw when you fancy something a bit mellower but still pretty full-on.