Tag Archive: English Strong Ale


Fuller: Old Winters Ale (England: English Strong Ale: 5.3% ABV)

Visual: Bright clear mahogany, slightly bubbly with a decent brown bubbled head.

Nose: Fruitcake, cream. Nutmeg. Cinnamon and almond fingers. Caramel.

Body: Treacle, bitter, slightly frothy. Exposed oak middle. Grapefruit and cherries intermixed. Malt. Slight ovaltine.

Finish: Burnt sausages. Brown bread. Hops, grapefruit and wood shavings.

Conclusion: A fair drink, but not one with a clear idea of what it is. The nose hints at a traditional Christmas ale – fruit cake and spice. The body then plays with grapefruit as well as the more expected cherries, and the finish plays with charred and hoppy.

Each individual element works well but together they are weaker than the sum of their parts as they do mot mesh to a coherent whole.

Not bad nor brilliant, it just can’t quite work out what to do with itself.

Nobbys T’owd Navigation (England: English Strong Ale: 6.1% ABV)

Visual: Quite dark, semi opaque brown red beer with a thin shimmer of bubbles.

Nose: Dry mocha and ash.

Body: Great dose of liquorice and bitter chocolate. Burnt wood. Semi sweet lime at the back. Treacle, marzipan and old style hard sweets.

Finish: Black hard liquorice bits and bitter chocolate. Wheat at the very end.

Conclusion: More than it seems at first sip. I was ready to slate this beer initially but as the pint progressed the flavour slowly built up, and lighter elements shimmered though the back.

Feels a very old style beer with a lot to recommend it, the streets of beamish museum and pealing black and white photos come to mind.

Surprisingly good with a wonderfully treacherous streak of bitterness.

Innis and Gunn Rum Cask (Scotland: Strong Ale: 7.4% ABV)

Visual: Extreme dark red with wine like elements. Fizzy head dissipates quickly.

Nose: Sea salt, distinct rum and red wine. Slight soured cherries. Spicy and draws you in. Almost nautical character. Salt and vinegar crisps.

Body: Slick and smooth, red wine and marzipan. The rum characteristics are unmistakable, Chewy raisins. Not too heavy, drips sweetly down your throat. Rich feel and seems like the liquid crumbles in your mouth.

Finish: Raspberries and cherries mixed in cinnamon. Touch of black treacle.

Conclusion: So far the best Innis and Gunn beer made. A wonderful mix of red wine and beer character with a brilliant rum influence.

It is rich and fruity with a slight salt and nautical character that rounds it wonderfully. Never too harsh, it is a drink of leisure and for remising on times of adventure and past glories, a true call to days filled with wonder.

So yes, it is a fine beer in case you were still wondering.

(Note: Thanks to Paul Henderson for providing some bottles of this fine beer)

Palmers: Tally Ho! (England: Strong Ale: 5.5% ABV)

Visual: Dark cherry black with a thin bubbly head.

Nose: Sour cherry and coffee. Bitter chocolate.

Body: Sweet, black cherry and bitter. Tiniest hint of cream and alcohol raisins punch in. Tart and sharp.

Finish: Sour black cherry, airy raisins and sultanas, again spirit soaked. Malt chocolate.

Conclusion: A sour sharp beer that excites. Punchy, not a beer you could have many pints of but it refreshes amazingly and awakes you once more

A good wake up call, its sharpness and sourness matches well with its darker elements for an enticing beer.

Well worth a try, possibly with dessert or in place of wine to see how it goes.

Shepherd Neame: Christmas Ale 2009 (England: Strong Ale: 7% ABV)

Visual: A light clear metallic red with a bubbly but not overly substantial head.

Nose: Sherry spice, cloves, white grapes. A light smooth hop character, wood shavings.

Body: Rich warming and spicy, plums and red berries. Sweet, very syrupy and a fizzy sherbet feel. Black treacle occasionally.

Finish: Raspberry, sherry, slight roasted almonds. Hint of nutmeg and sponge. Slowly eases out to light fluffy hops.

Conclusion: I always love the arrival of Christmas beers; it’s pretty much the only thing that redeems the festive season.

This slightly spiced, warming and fruity ale is typical for the style and done pretty well. Lovely fruit sweet body and a very long finish. With the addition of the bitter core it hits a lot of right notes.

The beer is somewhat over syrupy which hits the quality the second half of a pint, and reduces the subtlety of the ale, which keeps it from the top end of the market. However whilst it is not innovative it is well worth drinking.

Now I wouldn’t go out and crucify a hippy to get to drink it twice a year but I will enjoy it while it is around, and heck you wont regret doing so as well.

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