When I was about 12, I used to pilfer the CDs that came with my dad’s copies of Q Magazine. Most of them were lazily cobbled-together throwaways, barely warranting a full listen before ending up in the bin. But there was one that I used to go back to a lot.
It was a compilation of covers performed by exactly the kind of bands and artists you’d expect to see in Q – Franz Ferdinand, The Magic Numbers, Richard Hawley...you get the picture. But I would always skip forward to track 7, a version of Orange Crush performed by Editors. I’d never heard the R.E.M. original at this point, but there was something about that Editors version, the singer’s nasally drawl and the insistent, nagging energy of the hi-hats, that meant it never left my head. It’s still in there now – whenever I think of Editors (not often, admittedly), I think of that cover.
It sprung to mind again the other night, when I cracked open a can of Lumina, Siren Craft Brew’s flagship session IPA. Clocking in at 4.2%, it strikes a happy medium between their exceptional 3.6% pale ale, Yu Lu, and the legendary Soundwave IPA at 5.6%. It is also, quite literally, an orange crusher. After spending most of the winter indulging in thick, heavy stouts and roasty porters, tasting that first crisp, juicy sip of Lumina was like seeing the sun emerge from behind a brooding storm cloud.
While many beers are judged – rightly or wrongly – in relation to their hoppiness, Lumina’s excellence lies in its natural drinkability. It’s that almost mystical quality few beers possess, which makes it impossible not to grab another can from the fridge, followed by another. And then another. Just try and limit yourself to one can, I dare you.
The overriding tangerine aroma and sweet, sticky citrus flavour is complemented perfectly by the subtle bitterness – a polite pat on the back rather than a skin-stinging slap. The mouthfeel is just thick enough to keep your interest piqued, yet not too thin as to ruin the experience (watery session ales be damned). If you’ve ever enjoyed Fourpure’s Easy Peeler, this is similar - but far, far, FAR better.
It’s sometimes hard to get excited about lower-strength beers, but this is the realm in which a brewery’s quality shines through. Unlike double IPAs or imperial stouts, there’s no decadent sweetness or mouth-coating hoppiness to hide behind with a drink like this. Any imperfection is easy to identify, and will be instantly pounced upon by the most snobbish of Untappd-dwelling beer fiends. But with Lumina there are no such imperfections to speak of.
It’s not a beer that’s trying to show off. It’s a beer that is unashamedly straightforward and undeniably delicious, and sometimes that’s all we want after a hard day in the office, or perhaps to toast the end of an article about Lumina. Tssk!