Wagtail Brewery: Best Bittern (England: Bitter: 4.5% ABV)
Visual: Toffee hued body. Moderate off white creamy head. Some sud edges around the glass as you drink the beer.
Nose: Toffee. Sour dough. Dried fruit sugars. Creamy. Crushed hard sweets.
Body: Moderate bitterness. Tart apples. Bubblegum. Dried fruit sugars. Sour dough. Brown envelopes and gum. Very slightly sour. Moderate earthiness. Light bitty orange juice.
Finish: Gummed envelopes. Earthy bitterness. Solid remaining flavour. Sweet orange air. Soil. Bubblegum. Dried apricot. Malt drinks. Toffee.
Conclusion: Going a bit traditional with this beer. A moderately earthy English style bitter with that slight sour refreshing backing and robust but not heavy bitterness. It balances the earthy notes with the restrained toffee sweetness and apricot fruit sugars that make up the base, to prevent the soil character becoming dominant. There is nothing heavy, everything is just keeping it in that drinkable mid range.
The oddest characteristic it comes out with is a slight bubblegum character and an accompanying cloying touch of sour dough – it gives a bit more of a savoury twist in the depths of the beer.
So, overall it is well put together – the fruity notes sweeten and fresh the occasional soil notes as they should and you end up with something that may not be out of the ordinary, but it hits its marks well.
Frankly, while not a showstopper, I am enjoying it – though I do wonder if it would work as well on cask? A lot of what makes this work is the carefully and clearly defined elements – casks are good at blended notes together to give extra subtlety but less clarity, which I feel would hurt this beer.
Any which way, as a bottle this is a polished job in what can often be a dull earthy best bitter style. A beer that matches expectations very well but does not exceed them.
Background: Been back up north again, and again the family have been so kind as to provide me with some beers. Many thanks! Another bird themed beer from Wagtail brewery here which I drank while listening to some of The Pixies. Can still remember when I first heard The Pixies back at Uni. Blew my mind. Also everyone apart from me was high as balls, but that was a different matter.