Saturday, May 28, 2011

E2 Beer Tasting

It's been a while since our last beer tasting, but we finally got together for another one, this time in the London East End. We were six like last time in TW1, but with three different people. Without knowing, we went through some of the beers we had last time and we mostly seemed to agree with previous comments. Most of the beers were bought in Sainsbury's, Waitrose and the off license next door, which has a surprisingly decent selection of English ales.

Badger - Poacher’s choice (****.)

An ale with brown-red, autumnal colours. A rich, smooth smell with hints of fruit. Berry and cherry flavours at first taste, but it gets more complex with liquorice and smokey aftertaste. GB found it more tart than fruity on the swallow. This was our first beer of the night and its warming richness made for a good start. 22/30

Jennings - Cumberland Ale (**...)

Light amber, bright yellow color. A very interesting smell, herby, almost grassy. GB thought of sage stuffing. The taste did not live up to the smell. It was quite tart and sparkly at first taste, then growing yeasty and bitter at the swallow. MV found it similar to certain Portuguese beers. 13/30

Ringwood - Fortyniner (***..)

Orangy colour, like honey. A sweetish, hoppy smell, a bit powdery. It tickles your nose. Tangy but quite rich already at first taste. A bit of a bitter aftertaste. On the swallow it gets even richer and complex with oaky and woody tones. It’s a lovely ale, with a great balance. 20/30

Hogs Back - OTT (Old Tongham Tasty) - Brewery conditioned (**...)

A dark ale, with a very dark red colour, almost black. The smell lives up to expectation: notes of treacle, syrup. GB even suggests a hint of decomposition. KR (a med student) can taste formaldehyde at first try. Others found it quite filling, smoky as if burning wet wood, peaty. The vaguely treacle, syrupy smell is also present at the swallow, reminding MV of burnt caramel.
Interesting ale, but possibly too rich. We didn’t quite finish the bottle, so none of us would get to the bottom of a pint, I guess. 13/30

Black sheep - Black sheep ale (***..)

We ended up with five bottles of this one. Clearly very easy to find! It’s a quaffable, simple ale. MV calls it “mostly harmless”. A good session ale, but nothing stands out. The color is dark amber, the smell is weak but notes of hops and fruit can be found. Malty and tangy at first taste, quite fizzy. GB finds a bit more complexity at the swallow, defining it slightly smokey. 19/30

Batemans - Triple XB (***..)

This is a Vegan pale ale, a surprise from the off-licence next door. I had good expectations about this one. I really liked it and will buy it again, but most people found it average. Dusky amber colour, sappy, grainy smell. GB could smell pine needles in it. At first taste I found it stronger than expected, very hoppy. GB found it slightly numbing. At swallow it gets more complex, oaky, subtle and woody. 20/30

Thwaites - Very nutty black (***..)

This is a bottle conditioned ale, and one that we also had last time, when we scored a similar result. Opaque in colour, dark brown. The smell is citrusy and sour. The first taste confirms it with tart and lemony notes. At swallow GB finds it chewy, MV can taste some hazelnut. Refreshing for its citrus notes, but hardly nutty at all. 16/30

Box Steam - Funnel Blower (*****)

Bottle conditioned real ale. I'm not sure, but this might come from GB's stash so it might not be too easy to find. If that's the case, then it's a pity, because this is the winner of the night. This ale was also scored before, always with pretty high results.
A pure black, coffee-like colour. Hints of coffee, chocolate, vanilla and cappuccino. Very inviting. At first taste it's smooth, a bit coarse, full-bodied. RV finds notes of liquorice and SC of fig.
At the swallow MV thinks of the roasted barley drink often used as a surrogate for coffee. This dark porter was rich but refreshing, not at all cloying like some porters can be. 29/30

Fullers - Honey Dew (***..)

An organic ale, quite easy to find. Lager-like colour, with a subtle smell of honey. At first taste the honey is quite present, and mixes well with hoppy flavours. GB finds it light bodied but sappy at swallow. It’s a very quaffable, summery ale. 20/30

Badger - Fursty Ferrett (***..)

This ale is quite refreshing and easy to find. It has an even ambery, gingery colour. Complex -but not too rich- smell of red fruits (RV), malt and tree honey (GB). It’s a bit harsh at first taste with some earthiness and honey flavours. Quite satisfying when swallowed, with woody notes and a hoppy aftertaste. 21/30

Morland - Old Crafty Hen (***..)

This is a version of the Old Speckled Hen blended with an aged ale. We had mixed feelings about this one with RV and GB scoring high and KR and SC scoring low. Light mahogany colour, yeasty but kind of sweet smell (caramel). MV mentions sourdough. Rich and full-bodied already at first taste. A bit sharp, cidery. SC thinks of overripe fruit. Complex at swallow, with notes of candy, oak, old wood. Slightly dry, something that I really appreciated. 20/30

Meantime - Chocolate (***...)

We all thought this deserved a three. It’s very well presented and certainly sets high expectations, which are not fully met. Cola-like color, dark red. The smell is of burnt chocolate. At first taste it's cloying bitter, with just faint notes of cocoa. At swallow it tastes a lot more of chocolate rather than cocoa, even with notes of milk chocolate bar. There was definitely a lot of effort to make the chocolate stand out, but possibly not in the best possible way. 18/30