Fox Branthill Pioneer

Fox: Branthill Pioneer (England: ESB: 5.2% ABV)

Visual: Hazy yellow gold. Off white head that leaves suds.

Nose: Shortbread. Earthy. Gingerbread.

Body: Orange juice. Malt chocolate and toffee. Soft peach. Some bitterness. Not too thick feeling. Walnuts.

Finish: Earthy. Light white pepper. Some bitterness. Cashew nuts. Milky coffee. Peach. Chocolate toffee.

Conclusion: This is a beer that is a bit more subtle and complex than I would have first given it credit for. You see, the first impressions I got was a slightly earthy but toffee backed ale. Stop me if you’ve already heard this one. So, nothing out of the ordinary.

However, in a front page headline grabbing shock, it does not end there. While normally I take a lack of robustness as a flaw in a beer, here it has a lighter mouthfeel but seems to use it to let other elements through. The most notable being an orange juice character – it even feels as if it has bits of orange flecks in the texture somehow.

You take that and combine with with soft rounding out peach notes as it warms and you find a beer that gives a lot more than I imagined it would. Now, just to clarify – the malt body of toffee and the light earthiness are centre stage; The fruit is a backing note, but it makes the beer so much more refreshing and manageable than most earthy ales usually are.

So, while not earth shattering it does manage to do its own thing and become a pleasant slow sipping ale. I can live with that.

Background: I seem to be against the trend with this one going by ratebeer – they don’t seem to like it much, then again they list it as 5% abv, so I wonder if the recipe has been tweaked recently. Anyway, yes I know I said I had put up the last of the Norfolk beers drunk with the family up north. Which was true. I just happened to bring back two more beers from the set to review back down south. Of which this is one. Completely different thing guv. Anyway, again many thanks to the family. Drunk with some calming Ulver: Blood Inside as I realise I have to go back to work soon.

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