Saturday, September 25, 2010

TW1 Beer Tasting (3)

Slightly different proceedure this time: there were six of us tasting (as opposed to three at the previous TW1 sessions), so the aggregate scores are all sucked toward the average by the fact that tastes differ. Beers will be ranked here according to the group preferences, but comments and stars mostly refer to my own tastes and favourites

Innis and Gunn Rum Cask (****.): not really a microbrew or a real ale, but we finished the night with this drink and it took everyone's fancy very nicely. It's a slightly darker beer, about the colour of an Irish setter, with an oaky, whiskey aroma; it has a dark sweetness, not the stickiness of rum, but more the smoothness of a good bourbon. Refreshing despite a strong aftertaste, and very quaffable. Could happily drink this all night. It was SC's favourite. Group score: 26/30 (extrapolated)

Box Steam Funnel Blower (*****): a very dark beer with a chocolatey odour, a sweet and smokey first taste, and a hint of vanilla in the swallow. My personal favourite of the night, a dark porter, stronger than expected, and up there for me with the most drinkable stouts; also ES's joint favourite. (Has anyone visited Box Steam in Wiltshire?) 23/30

Whittington Cat's Whiskers (***..): a dark, russet-vrown ale with lots of loose yeast in the bottle (I don't know if this is typical of the beer, or if it got shaken up on opening, but it slightly decreased my enjoyment of it); the head is both smoky and fruity, and it tastes like a good traditional pub bitter, if a little bit harsh to my throat. This was RV's joint favourite of the evening, however. 22/30

Cheddar Ales Totty Pot (****.): one of my favourites, a very dark, almost opaque beer with a smoky bacon aroma, smelling more like a stout than a porter. A beer for a winter evening, with a sweet but very bitter first taste, a signicant kick of spiciness--a hint of liquorice and roasted cardamon. This should certainly be a more mainstream beer, in my opinion, and I'm going to look out for Cheddar Ales in future. RV couldn't stomach the smokiness, and singlehandedly brought the score down several points. 21/30

Hercule Stout (***..): a Belgian dark ale, but with much less flavour than expected; thick and dark but almost odourless; tones of smokiness, but not too much even for the non-fans of dark beer among us; sweet and subtle on the finish. Quite drinkable, but sadly not very memorable, although SC and RV liked it better. 20/30

Chimera Honey Blonde (**...): one of the beers that didn't really work for me at all, although Chimera is a great label and I normally enjoy honey ale. This was very light, with a hint of lemon and apple in the aroma; a crisp clean bitterness in the aftertaste. Looking at the overall scores, everybody either loved or hated this--it was RV's other favourite, and MR also liked it a lot. 18/30

Vale Edgar's Golden (***..): another one that divided the group (with only myself thinking it average), this outing from TW1 favourites Vale is a clear light ale, sweet but gentle tasting with the slightest hint of honey; slightly watery on the finish, with strong hops but not much else. 18/30

St Peter's Mild (***..): Again, not a bottle conditioned ale and widely available in supermarkets, St Peter's are nevertheless reliable and serve a good variety of beer styles. The Mild is fairly dark, more brown than red, with a mildly smoky odour; it has more stout bitterness than sweetness in the flavour, and is light but drinkable. Everybody scored this completely average. 18/30 (extrapolated)

Cropton Balmy Mild: I sat this round out, but I'm told that this misty amber ale was hoppy with a caramel aroma and hints of chewy toffee in the taste; a bit smoky on the swallow, but overall a little weak. RV reported a cloying aftertaste of processed sugar that spoiled it a bit, but RP liked it a lot. 17/30 (extrapolated)

Duchy Organics Old Ruby Ale (***..): a promising dark amber beer the colour of brandy, with a deep malty and musty aroma; it gave a sharp and very bitter first taste, but on the swallow a slightly unpelasant flavour of decay and too much yeast; average to slightly below average for everyone (ES didn't like it at all). 16/30

Thwaites Very Nutty Black (***..): another more mainstream beer, nonetheless pretty smooth and drinkable (a particular hit with those who don't taste to smoky ales so much). This "export strength" version of the Nutty Black ale is dark, but with a rich ruby, almost cola-like glow with held up to the light; it smells slightly but really not very nutty, and has a smooth and unremarkable ale flavour; it's refreshing and dark, but not overwhelming in any sense. RV liked it, but most of the rest of us were underwhelmed. 16/30

Suthwyck Old Dick (***..): this rich, golden-blonde ale has a hoppy odour, a sparkly, slightly rancid first taste, and a heavy aftertaste that reminded more than one person of the distinctive smell of asparagus-wee. Reactions were mostly average, but MR hated this and brought down the aggregate score quite heavily. 15/30

Kloster Andrechs (****.): we're now at the bottom of the pile as far as the group assessment went, but I did rather like this fine example of a German Doppel Bock styled dunkel. It is dark brown in colour, with an earthy, olive aroma, a thick and almost syrupy smell of malthouse; a lovely malty sweet taste with a struby bitter finish. This beer lost points because most people, although admitting it was very nice, didn't think they could ever drink a whole pint of something this chewy. (RP absolutely hated it, it has to be said.) 14/30

Quintine (***..): we started the evening with this attractively labelled Belgian white-beer, and most people were pretty disappointed. It certainly wasn't terrible, but this cloudy golden beer with odours of fruit and ammonia had a tangy first taste, both bitter and sweet, and a lot less flavour to it that we expect from a Belgian; very little on the swallow, and not much distinctive about it at all (RP was most vocal in his disappproval). 14/30

Black Isle Red Kite (**...): I love the Black Isle brewery, but this soft amber ale had an aroma like peach ice tea, a fizzy, sweet and mild first taste, and lingering sweetness on the swallow. Everyone was pretty underwhelmed (although ES and SC were more forgiving than the rest of us). 14/30

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Just to prove that we drink Belgian/Low Countries beer as well as British real ale, here are a couple of tastings (and snapshots) from tonight's visit to the theme pub:
I hope we'll have more Belgian tasting notes (from people who know what they're talking about) soon.