Sunday, August 29, 2010

Bottled beer tasting: Twickenham

As before, three of us tasted a variety of bottled real ales, made notes and gave an overall score out of 5. (Where 5 was, "this is a great beer I would actively seek out, recommend to others, and could drink all night"; 4 is "this is a good beer I'd enjoy drinking more of right now"; 3 is "this beer is fine, I'd happily drink it in a pub"; 2 is, "fine, but wouldn't seek it out, or choose it in a pub unless it was all they had on" (Guinness and London Pride are here); 1 is "not very nice at all, would never choose to drink this"; 0 (rare) is "I couldn't even swallow the first mouthful, vile vile vile.") I'll give my score out of five (as an icon), and the aggregate score out of 15.

Twickenham Ales, Naked Ladies: we got a four-pint bottle of this one from  the cask in, and it lasted well even 24 hours later. A bright, clear golden colour, hoppy nose, taste like a West Coast microbrew with hints of grapefruit. A bit hoppy for my taste, and kind of mainstream, but a big hit overall. (Shame about the laddish name.) Aggregate 11/15. My score: 4/5.

Hogs Back BSA: (We'd forgotten we had this last year too.) Very clear coppery coloured; smooth drinking, slightly fizzy. Aggregate: 9. My score: 3.

Laverstoke Organic Ale: tacky cartoonish label; a fruity nose and slightly insipid colour; almost like wine; very bitter, a little woody and buttery on the finish. Aggregate: 10.

Cropton Yorkshire Ale: malty and peaty, with an odour like broken thistles; deceptively light; like a German bock; some green sappy sweetness. Not bad, but not great by Yorkshire standards. Aggregate: 9.

Black Swan Mild: dark ruby coloured, very sweet aroma, a smoky first taste but slightly harsh roasted flavour; hint of flame-dried raisins. Aggregate: 11.

Box Steam Brewery, Funnel Blower: billed as a porter, but almost stout in stature. Honey, treacle, chocolate and butter in the flavours, but not without bitterness. Bit of a bite. The group's joint favourite of the night. Aggregate: 14.

Tewdric's Tipple: fruity aroma with a very hoppy taste, but smooth and not too much hops on the swallow; tastes include moss, ocean, and flower. Aggregate: 13.

Meantime Wheat Beer: tart and fruitier than expected, too sweet, cooked for too long, lots of banana and bubblegum. Perhaps unfair because we weren't in the mood for wheat beer, but not a great example of the style. Aggregate: 7.

Meantime London Stout: nice and smoky, very good stout; coarse, rough and authentic. Would drink more. Aggregate: 12.

Moorlands Old Crafty Hen: a rich, fruity and strong ale; great with cheese; majestic; cognac-coloured, smooth, mature and even a little decadent. Not a session ale, perhaps, but the other joint favourite of the night. Aggregate: 14.

Otley, O-Garden: a wheat beer; fruity, spicy, herby; with coriander, grass and holy fuck but nutmeg! Trying too hard to be clever, overall. Not bad beer if you drink it without smelling (but then you can drink vomit if you don't smell it). Aggregate: 5.

Suma, Long Wall Mouse: clean fruity aroma; hoppy and spicy; bitter with touch of tannin; "lively little wench". Aggregate: 10.

Vale, Wychert: a robust-smelling ale, with a sharp first bite. A timber-framed beer with early malts but rounded hops; well-crafted and solid. Aggregate (extrapolated): 12.

Black Isle Scotch Ale: a malty and fruity organic ale, very quaffable. Aggregate (extrapolated): 13.5.

Brakspear Organic Ale: floral, strong tasting, very drinkable ale. Aggregate (extrapolated): 11.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Great British Beer Festival 2010, tasting notes via Twitter (2)

Earl's Court: Saturday daytime session

  • Kelburn Misty Law: nice dusty aroma like good Scottish 80/- . Sweet, bitter and very quaffable;
  • Kingstone 1503 Tudor Ale: very raisiny dark ale. Hint of home-roasted malt. Authentic mediaeval flavour
  • Goff's Jouster: amber, almost odorless, malty and fruity, smoky in the finish.
  • Stewart's Edinburgh No 3: dark premium ale, slight aroma of slurry, but very smooth and delicate flavour. Unusually woody.
  • O'Hanlon's Port Stout: rich, very clean, less raisin than you might expect, can't taste the port.
  • Caledonian Mexican Bandit: very hoppy and fruity head, orange or lime. Much less flavour on the sip or the swallow, though.
  • Belhaven 70/-: clear coppery coloured, apricot/caramel scented, startlingly fruity flavour with a bitter, metallic chlorophyll finish
  • Sulwath Solway Mist: slightly cloudy, very sharp, hoppy aroma, sweet, earthy, almost sickly flavour, woodsap finish.
  • 2nd opinion on Solway Mist: very fruity, with hints of elderflower, grapefruit, honey, lemon & ammonia.
  • Barngates Red Bull Terrier: dark red, clean sweet smelling, charcoal flavour and very bitter finish
  • Yates Sun Goddess: whiskey colored, fresh and sour aroma, delicate & sparkly tasting with hoppy finish
  • Barlow Carnival Ale: deep golden colored, tart hoppy aroma, very clean IPA taste, with rough peppery finish
  • Richmond Swale: looks and smells like an old brown ale; gently sour foretaste, very smoky finish.
  • Bollington Oatmeal Stout: bacon and prune flavours, very little roast to it, green but promising stout
  • ending the session with a Banks Mild: predictable, full-flavoured, rich and slightly sweet. Cheers!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Great British Beer Festival 2010, tasting notes via Twitter (1)

Earl’s Court: Wednesday Evening session
  • Downton Chocolate Orange Delight. Surprisingly non-gimmicky and palatable. Smooth, sweet.
  • Cairngorm Black Gold: slightly peaty, smoky, quite sweet, a hint of liquorice and the familiar Cairngorm grapefruit/elderberry mix
  • Highland Orkney Blast: very hoppy, very bitter, almost lime in there, slightly sweet but some hints of camphor
  • Brewsters Hop a Doodle Do, less hoppy than expected, a rounded beer
  • Daleside Old Legover: yeasty, almost bready aroma, flavour is a nice mix of smoky, sweet malt and bitter.
  • Glastonbury Lady of the Lake: strong, fruity nose, a little tart, hoppy and malty at the same time, light and throaty.
  • Beowulf Strong Mild: lovely, rich dark aroma, but very strong, almost syrupy taste. Great old ale, but not a session beer...
  • Nottingham Rock Ale Mild: gentle aroma, slightly disappointingly mild, a bit of peat, raisin and plum. "smells like a tube station"
  • Salopian Shropshire Lass: fruity and hoppy, full-flavoured, a little bit lambic, a little tart. Pleasant, though.
  • Abbeydale Doctor Morton's Milk of Amnesia: light and wheaty, but unexpectedly smoky. Belgian. Banana. Yeasty.