Beer Matters

On the Home Front (part 2)

More tasting notes on bottled beers from the supermarket shelves:

Duchy Originals Organic Ale [5.0% ABV]
Appearance: Copper colour, thick loose head
Nose: Pronounced hops with underlying banana
Mouth-feel: Rich and creamy, no fizz
Taste: Disappointing after the promising nose
Finish: Lasting bitterness (Doombar style)
 
Brakspeare Triple [7.2% ABV, bottle-conditioned]
Appearance: Copper colour, "yeasty" head
Nose: Fruity, kiwi perhaps?
Mouth-feel: Thick and smooth, minimal fizz
Taste: Cherries and grapefruit
Finish: Nutty
A very flavoursome beer. It went well with a mature farmhouse Cheddar.
 
Scottish Courage Newcastle Brown Ale * [4.7% ABV]
Appearance: Copper colour, lively head
Nose: Woody and peppery
Mouth-feel: Watery, carbonated
Taste: Sweetish with a slight metallic edge
Finish: Some hops but not a lot
I thought I’d see how this old warhorse compares with some more contemporary brews. The answer is “not terribly well”.
 
Meantime Porter [6.5% ABV]
Appearance: Dark, small head
Nose: Hoppy
Mouth-feel: Fulsome, quite lively
Taste: Wonderfully rich flavour, redolent of coffee, bitter chocolate and walnuts
Finish: Warm and toasty
You probably gather I enjoyed this one.
 
Wychwood Fiddler’s Elbow [4.5% ABV]
Appearance: Golden brown, short-lived head
Nose: Vaguely hoppy
Mouth-feel: Lightish, too much acidity on the tongue
Taste: Fruity (redcurrants?)
Finish: Tangy, orange peel
Apparently brewed with a mixture of wheat and barley malt - not the same recipe as the draught Fiddler’s Elbow of a few years ago.
 
Badger Hopping Hare [4.5% ABV]
Appearance: Golden, foaming head
Nose: Aroma of pears on opening the bottle, underlying hoppiness
Mouth-feel: Full, noticeable carbonation
Taste: Hops up front, caramel and honey notes
Finish: Lasting bitterness
 
Somerfield “Best Ever” Bavarian Wheat Beer [5.3% ABV]
Appearance: Pale, cloudy, dense head
Nose: Strong yeasty aroma, plus hops
Mouth-feel: Creamy, slightly acidic
Taste: Fairly typical wheat beer with a hint of violets
Finish: Floral
 
Ostravar Premium [5.0% ABV]
Appearance: Pale golden, uneven head
Nose: Breakfast cereal, muted hops
Mouth-feel: Medium body, minimal fizz
Taste: Quite fruity (gooseberries)
Finish: Dry, hoppy
This is a fairly typical Czech lager (Ostravar is a subsidiary of Staropramen) though not the best I’ve ever tasted.
 
Sainsbury’s “Taste the Difference” Franconian-style Dark Lager [5.0% ABV]
Appearance: Deep brown, ruby glint, short-lived head
Nose: Butterscotch, hints of chocolate
Mouth-feel: Medium body, definite ‘prickle’
Taste: Rather understated and caramelly
Finish: Bitter coffee
Something a little out of the ordinary - brewed by Meantime at Greenwich.
 
Cobra King Cobra [8.0% ABV, bottle-conditioned]
Appearance: Golden, slightly hazy, big effervescent head
Nose: Citrusey
Mouth-feel: Full bodied and smooth, not unduly fizzy
Taste: Complex with vanilla and butterscotch notes
Finish: Initial sweetness fading to bitter
Not to be confused with the American beer of the same name, this is an up-market sibling to the well-known curry house staple (Selfridges have been promoting it with Valrhona chocolates).

* Did you know that Newcastle Brown Ale changed its name in 2000? Amid much trumpeting and junketing it was officially re-branded “Newcastle Brown”. Apparently the marketing people thought the word “ale” was outdated and unappealing to younger drinkers. Four year later the offending word was quietly reinstated on the label following the revelation that the change had made not a scrap of difference to sales. Now there’s a surprise.

Maximus Bibendus

Reproduced by kind permission of The Ringing World.

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