Reflection on a Pale

I can’t place the first time I tried Good Things’ Pale Ale, but I know that I liked it from the off. It was a slightly different beer back then, different to the one I’ve held in my hand recently. This beer has evolved, switched up to a 440ml can, taken on a new identity and registered a name. This beer is Reflection.

Back then Good Things Brewing Co had developed and released two beers: the Pale Ale and the IPA. Both were in 330ml cans looking and, more importantly, tasting stunning. Whilst the rest of the UK beer scene seemed to be running at an ever increasing rate of new releases, the East Sussex based brewery bucked that trend completely, instead focusing its efforts on its two core beers and building a sustainable, closed-loop brewery. In early 2019, after two years of hard work, the new home for Good Things was complete, the team now brewing from a completely self-sufficient farm site in the beautiful Sussex countryside. More beers were added to the lineup, the original beer recipes were dialled-in on the new kit and a new-look core range was revealed.

Things were going from strength-to-strength, the team were rightfully getting recognition for their exceptional beers and sustainability credentials, the announcement of new taprooms came…and then lockdown happened. I had been waiting for the chance to head over to the brewery tap, but that chance would have to wait. Instead, I took the opportunity to order a mixed case of beers direct from the Good Things website as the team quickly put safe measures in place in order to keep brewing and keep getting their beer out of the door. Reflection was the first to be opened.

Three times I fell for this beer and three times this beer proved it should be a fridge staple.

The first was actually a sip, from another’s glass, a mere taste, but sometimes a taste is all you need. And then, after a day of grey clouds and heavy rain, the sun came out as I poured Reflection into my own glass and breathed in its soft scent. It turned out the sun had also made an appearance at the rear of the garden too, touching the last corners of flora and fence in an early-evening, yet last ditched, attempt to offer pleasant warmth and bright joy. It was a soothing touch at the end of a tediously dull day.

The sparrows bounced and bathed, buoyed by the glow it seemed, as I too found spirits were being lifted by the bright glow in front of me. Reflections of a young, transient blue sky in puddles on the patio. Reflection poured from a blue can; a young, transient beer in my glass. Calm had been restored as evening fell.

“Waiter!”, Dad called, laughing. “That’s the second time tonight you’ve used that joke”, I said. “He’s not got many good ones”, Mum had chipped in. We had got to the end of our dinner. The scene suggesting a family meal, yet the screen revealing the truth; we’d been apart in our togetherness that night. “He’s used his two good jokes”, my brother quipped as I looked at the remainder of beer in my glass; two good sips left.

Pre-lockdown we would’ve been sat at the same table, but even with three tables and as many screens utilised for the evening our synced meal had been a success. That joyfulness which comes to a person from being in the company of good people, enjoying good food was evident despite the separation. A good beer helped too, effortlessly pairing with my lamb dinner; mouthfuls of rich, luxuriant shepherds pie followed by sip after sip of Reflection. The pale ale had provided enough hop character to cut through the richness of the meat dish yet not overpower it, nor be overpowered itself.

Eat, sip, laugh, repeat. The evening was over too quickly. The food was over too quickly. Lockdown seems to last forever. Then, just two sips left of a beer which had acted as an ideal liquid soundtrack. Soft citrus and elegant tropical notes washed down a happy moment, of which Reflection had sat part of perfectly.

It had been my first day back at work after a seven week furlough. It had felt strange, yet okay. Different, yet familiar. They’re calling it the new normal, whatever that is. The sun beat down all day as a buzzard caught thermals overhead, swifts darted in and out of view and I think I heard a cuckoo call, just the one, carried to me, caught on the wind and finding my ear.

Sussex tradition would have me down tools immediately on hearing the cuckoo and to find the nearest inn in which to toast it. That was never going to happen in this modern world at the best of times, less so now. Reflection in the garden at the end of the day was a good substitute, a modern pale ale with its summery citrus flavours; candied orange and lemon. It’s soft but with enough bitterness to make itself known. Pine and resin kick. It’s beautifully balanced, like the buzzard as it soars.

I took the scenic route home, the views seemed sharper somehow. The flavours in this beer seemed sharper too, altogether bolder and more cohesive after two weeks in the fridge. I drove past a pub, the beer garden sat empty; the new normal. I’m not sure what to expect of this summer we’re sitting on the cusp of, but one thing I am beginning to realise is Good Things’ beers are starting to become a go-to for me, not least this core pale ale. Reflection is going to be a part of my new normal. My new fridge staple.

Good Things Brewing Co. can be found online here. The beers featured in this post were purchased from the brewery’s online store.

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Author of Look At Brew - a beer blog dedicated to the celebration and promotion of the modern beer scene.