Crate Best
Crate: Best (England: Bitter: 4.3% ABV)

Visual: Chestnut brown to red. Still. Moderate off white head.

Nose: Cherries. Sour apple tang at edges. Fruitcake and roasted nuts.

Body: Frothy sherbet feel. Roasted nuts. Slight apples. Quite thick in feel. Vanilla. Malt chocolate. Almonds. Red wine.

Finish: Bitter and nuts. Light earthy hops. Vanilla. Stewed apples. Cinnamon. Pears. Dry hop bitterness.

Conclusion: Strange, I was just asking recently what it took to make a good best bitter. Now I have an answer right here in a glass.

I will admit it doesn’t stay massively from the formula but it does it damn competently. Lots of roasted nuts and chocolate malt drinks with this great frothy texture that makes it all stand out. This is the centre point of the beer and what it always comes back to, there’s earthy hops in moderate to round out the edges but not too heavy.

What makes it work is that they don’t leave it there, but have this vanilla sweetness that lingers at the back which smoothes everything enough that you can just let is slip down nicely, riding that texture down. Furthermore they have that essential ingredient for the best bitters, that slight sourness that keeps it going, here implemented with light apple and pear flavour around it. Done very subtly but rounding out the flavour and keeping the beer from getting too heavy. Late on this seems to shift, the tartness melding with the heavier elements and gaining a sour red wine touch that is probably the most exotic and best twist the beer has, giving that touch of sparkle to it

Now for the most part it is nothing revolutionary, but it plays very well. In the middle it seemed to be getting a tad too heavy, but that additional red wine touch at the end managed to put a stop to that. So, no, not that unusual, but very solid. A very good template for how to do a best bitter. The bitter market is very crowded and has a lot of dull entries, and you could do a lot worse that use this as a fine introduction to its finer range

Background: I’ve already gone over my problems with ukmail and the beers kindly provided by ales by mail. This is another one of those beers. I’ve not tried anything from Crate before, but liked the minimalist look of the bottle label.

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