Tag Archive: ESB


Captain Smith
Titanic: Capt. Smiths (England: ESB: 5.2% abv)

Visual: Chestnut brown. Moderate creamy custard touched head.

Nose: Chocolate orange. Malt drinks and chocolate flakes. Kiwi and apples. Pear drops.

Body: Chocolate. Lots of malt drinks. Passion fruit and kiwi fruitiness. Pears. Slightly lime jelly. Smooth frothy texture. Raisins.

Finish: Passion fruit and chocolate. Nutty and lightly roasted. Gooseberry jam. Lime jelly. Marmalade. Light hop bitterness with fruitcake and raisin later on.

Conclusion: How very unexpected. This thing has layers that I just did not expect. Pleasing to the eye, this thing came in with a chocolate orange aroma that you could pick up from quite a distance leading me to expect a chocolate filled and soothing beer. It definitely provides that and on initial sip it seemed not much more, but that simple façade soon slipped away.

The thick body allows soft seeping fruit to develop, kiwi, apples and pears (no, not stairs). All the fruits are soft and green to give a juicy middle in the mix of easy building flavours. Here the contrast between the two is pleasant but more so in that it gives room for the next characteristic to rise.

The finish develops a slight marmalade turn and light bitterness which is just the perk the beer needs. Combined with that real ale roasted feel throughout as a backbone it makes for a wonderful rounded pint.

5.2% abv while far from a session beer, still seems low for a “Strong Ale” these days. However the texture feels weighty, slight jelly and jam elements are brought as feel backing the flavour which really allows the fruit flavours to shine.

Even now as I write more is coming out, darker fruits rise to fruitcake and raisins against the green fruit of early on. This is a beer to enjoy until the end. Oft in style it feels closer flavour wise to the heavier Barely Wines, but is still lower abv and soothing to a pint drinkable fashion,

Deep and complex yet drinkable as an end of the day pint if you take care. A brilliant match.

Background: Looking over my past few reviews I realized I had been light on cask real ale reviews. Not due to any lack of drinking them, but more because I usually have them while catching up with friends so don’t get much chance to do notes. So, the next time I was in “The Raven” I made sure to take some time out and o this tasting note. Oddly the USA also has a Titanic Brewing, and they also do a Captain Smith beer. Then again, considering the naming inspiration for both I shouldn’t be surprised.

Beater

Wall’s: Beaters Choice (England: ESB: 4.6% ABV)

Visual:  Mahogany red with half and inch of creamy, quite bubbled froth. A toffee hue to the head and a still nature to the body.  The head leaves long sud trails in the glass as you drink.

Nose: Vanilla and light chestnut. Slight custard touch and quite creamy,

Body: Quite bitter. Pineapple and citrus hops. Thick texture. Malt chocolate orange drink. Rough hop feel at times. Dried apricot. Soil touch. The sweetness grows to be quite prominent by the end. Toffee.

Finish: Dry granite and bitter. Nuts. Earthy backed by sweet apricot.

Conclusion: Huh, not the beer I was expecting from looking at it. It looks very much like a standard bitter and the aroma backs these first impressions by being smooth and slightly nutty. It doesn’t seem anything unusual to begin with.

The body then comes in with a weird mix of fresh citrus and sweetness that calls to newer brewing trends. However it does that without breaking with a lot of the older real traditions, there is still nuttiness and a quite traditional soil styled earth element to the finish.

The citrus isn’t like the brash tart elements you can get with the craft beer style, more sweet and easy going. A pleasant mix of fresh and sweet flavours coming through over a more traditional real ale body.

The sweetness grows as it goes on becoming much closer to the traditional elements but still with fresher touches backing it up.

So a traditional ale with sweetness that builds and just a hint of unexpected citrus flavours. It still leans much more towards the traditional and aims for the solid rather than showy. It does however get an impressive range of flavour from the varied elements that keeps you interested to the end of the pint. Not a world shaker and a little too sweet at the end but a tidy solid pint with good amout of play and very enjoyable.

Background: Wall’s Beaters Choice, or as the tap says “Northallerton Wall’s County Town Brewery North Yorkshire Beaters Choice” Which seems a bit of a mouthful. As always I am a tad biased  on beers from Yorkshire.   Since I’ve been having a lot of craft ale recently I decided to make a concerted effort to have do a few cask hand drawn real ales while I was back home. Which I have done, but mostly in a social situation where reviews could not be fitted in. I managed to get this one in from a Weatherspoons in Richmond.(The proper one, not the one in Surrey). I will admit I’m not a huge fan of weatherspoons, mainly cause of the atmosphere, but I will concede that they tend to have a good habit of sourcing local ales.

Redhook: ESB (USA: ESB: 5.8% ABV)

Visual:  Clear gold. Thin dash of white head.

Nose: Malt. Toffee. Cinnamon. Barley fields. Smoke and dried apricot.

Body: Robust. Cherries and cinnamon. Apricots. Fruitcake. Liquorice touches but light. Black cherry yogurt.

Finish: Cherries and spice. Spiced rum. Light dry bitterness. Biscuits.

Conclusion: It’s odd to try a non real ale ESB. I’ve always viewed the texture brought from casks as an integral part of the style.  This on the other hand is a keg non real ale ESB. From America.  Huh.

So, here we go. The fruitcake flavour and cherries that is expected from the style cuts through cleanly. It actually comes through much clearer than most UK examples of the style. Not better, not worse, but clearer and sharper, with the hop bitterness in the finish being crisper.

It’s a fresh and bloody refreshing example of the style. I had to take care on drinking it to check my expectations at the door as it was obviously going to be very different to the UK style. I had to take care to try and review it as the beer it was not the beer I expected it to be.  It’s slightly biscuity, but again in a crisper fashion that usual. It’s a hot sun refresher of a beer, but with much more weight than that statement usually attaches to beer. In fact it is an impressive balance between authenticity and taking into account the insanely warm climate the beer will be drunk in.

So overall it is a good beer. Crisp, solid fruity flavours and refreshing. It isn’t the greatest, no one part stands out as exceptional, but there’s no real element I can complain about. A little spicy, a lot fruity and a few more usual flavour elements. Fresh, easy to drink and lots of nice weight. The only thing I really noticed against it was that due to having two pints I had the chance to find out it doesn’t session too well. Just have one and it will work well enough.

Background: Had a bit of a surprise with this one.  Turns out the pub was doing two pints for one on a Sunday morning. So before lunch I ended up with two pints of this. Well, it gave me a lot more experience to review. Also, possibly a reputation as an alcoholic.  Found in a pub in Nashville, one of the only ones that didn’t seem to have live music on.  Since this was one of Michael Jackson’s 500 recommended beers I thought I’d give it a try.  If you haven’t guessed this is another beer found during the road trip of awesome

Blindmans: Siberia (England: ESB: 4.7% ABV)

Visual: Slightly copper brown. Loose bubbly beige head.

Nose: Vanilla. Dry hops. Nettles and light wood.

Body: Vanilla toffee. Good bitter back. Very malty. Slight ginger snap. Liquorice below. Tingly texture.

Finish: Bitter. Malt loaf and butter. Light dry ginger. Even lighter aniseed air.

Conclusion:  A Christmas beer that goes against the usual tradition of having a heavy and or dark beer for the entry. Instead we have a beer with a light sparkle, maybe ginger in nature.

I’m not quite sure for the reason of the Siberia name, outside of snow=Christmas theme.  Despite that it’s not bad, a sweet set beer with a nice balance between tingle bitter and sweet.

In the fact it also has a very light liquorice touch to the body and aniseed air to the finish.  Both of which somehow manage to be subtle enough to not interfere. Impressive as usually the flavours get on my nerves, especially in lighter beers.

Later on the bitter dominates, though without becoming heavy set, it does result in simpler final few mouthfuls though and can get a bit samey.

Definitely better than average and a good solid bitter. Not fantastic, but that slight ginger tweak means I’m more likely to have a pint than not I would say.

Background; Drunk at the royal oak. The oak had been closed for a while and we were enjoying it being back.  I have no real major attachment to blindmans brewery but I find that they tend to be a reasonable pint.

Marstons: Pedigree (England: ESB: 5% ABV)

Visual: Mahogany to honey. Decent whitish froth of bubbles of a head. Moderate carbonation made up of very small bubbles.

Nose: Honey. Mellow British hops. Grapes.

Body: Honey. Bitter and sweet mixes. Slick texture. Lots of the clingy British hops in evidence. Dough. Golden syrup. Slight fizz mid body. Light peanuts on the middle as well,

Finish: Slick, like honey spread over your tongue. Hop oil and bitterness. The bitterness is the longest lasting element, solid but not overpowering. Peanuts.

Conclusion: Marstons can often be peoples first exposure to non crap beer.  It used to have a red and white colour scheme, maybe attempting to gain popularity my matching the English flag.  Any which way, it is a solid red these days so I can’t take the piss if it was.

Martson main appeal I feel tends to come from its very slick and quite thick texture, which tends to be backed by a solid bitterness.  Revisiting Pedigree I find the remembered texture still very much in evidence, it’s a thick sheen over your tongue that holds on well, Similarly the mix of the traditional Fuggle and Golding hops style is unmistakable, it has what I would think of a stereotypically British hop character; Thick and slightly heavy, with a clinging touch.

In fact this is what often is thought of as a hop characteristic for a casual drinker in Britain due to its prevalence in the more popular ales.  Oft people are unaware of the more showy hop varieties available elsewhere.  It’s a pity as these hops provide solid bitterness but not much pizzazz. Because of this it is quite hard to get excited about a beer that has it as its main characteristic.  The telling weight and thickness of the brewery are put to better use in some of their other beers.

This, their mainstay is somewhat dull. It does however carry nice grape and honey sweetness alongside the hops. A memorable beer for where it stands in my drinking history but not a special beer.

Background: Marstons is a popular brewer with a lot of my friends, with the term “A Marstons Moment” being used to refer to a gathering where Marstons is served.   They have always been a good stand by I’ve found, if not in the top league. Their Owd Rodger however is a thing of beauty by my recollection. May have to add it to my list of things to review one day. This beer was drunk with the family over Christmas, hence the odd choice of glass which was pretty much all they had.

Braydon: Gert Ale (England: ESB: 4.8% ABV)

Visual: Light chestnut influenced red with a thin sheen of creamy bubbles.

Nose: Creamy, Light bitterness and peanuts.

Body: Liquorice. Black cherry. Creamy and bitter. Reasonably thick texture. Condensed cream. Peanuts and a sweet treacle touch.

Finish: Potatoes and light bitterness. Dry feel. Black toffee.

Conclusion:  Back to previously unknown breweries as part of the “Order random stuff from the bar” principle.  Generally the first beer you have from a brewery colours your perception of them, what their house style is, and influences how you look on their later ales.  Bit of a pity really, as what I can tell from this beer is that they didn’t move far from the template when they brewed it and didn’t bother giving it much life either. So from this my first impression is that their house style is to be as middle of the line as possible

It’s a solid thick textured beer of treacle and bitterness, that comes in a tad sickly at the finish at times and lays the creaminess on a bit much for the style.

So what I am saying is that it is a bit dull, a bit off, with pretty much only its decent handling of bitterness to make it stand out. Not a terrible one, but not great.

Background: Braydon is a brewery from Chippenham (or “The Democratic Peoples Republic of Chippenham” as it is oft called for no reason I can ascertain). Gert is south west slang (specifically Bristol), known best for its use in the phrase “gert lush” which seems to mean very good. Allegedly gert by itself means very or big.  Listen, don’t blame me, I’m a Northerner, I didn’t make this shit up, we just say shit like “ee by gum” which makes much more sense. Anyway, it’s a beer, I drank it.

 

Fullers: Jack Frost (England: ESB: 4.5% ABV)

Visual: Mahogany red, toffee bubbled head that is solid and of decent size.

Nose: Quite a big dose of blackcurrant. Malty and quite syrupy. Slight pistachio nuts in there mixed with fruitcake.

Body: A solid bitterness, impressive considering how sweet the nose is. Blackcurrant juice is there but subdued. Raisins. Quite thick texture and decent amount of malt.

Finish: Fruitcake, chocolate. Slight bitter hop character. Fortified wine. Slight grapes and blackcurrant again.

Conclusion: Every time I have this beer I’m surprised. I always remember liking it, but when I look at that somewhat gimmicky and gaudy label I think “Nah, I must be getting it confused with some other Fuller beer I enjoyed”

However each time I am wrong. This Christmas (Yes its June I know, shut up) beer plays well to the heavy fruitcake style that Fullers does well.  The nose may not have helped dispel my first impressions, being slightly sickly sweet, but the main beer is much more solidly built. The blackcurrant is but one element to the robust beer. It is still quite sweet, but managed to not get sickly.

It is still going to be sweeter than a lot of Real Ale fans are going to prefer, but it’s a charming beer to me.  Not a classic of complexity like say their 1845, but it does play with a lot of flavours from the same toolbox.  A fun seasonal beer, and underneath the sweetness a darn solid one as well.

Background: Yes it’s a Christmas beer. Yes I’m aware Christmas was over about six months back.  Then again considering how late all the winter beers were released this year I’d say I’m only keeping up with their schedule.  Oddly I didn’t pick this beer up on my recent trip to Fullers brewery. I just happened to have it around so thought it would be a good time to bring it out.  Also yes, I know, that’s a half pint glass, I broke the pint glass a bit back and I’ve yet to be non lazy enough to get a new one.  I’m terrible I know.

Oakham: Akhenaten (England:ESB:4.9% ABV)

Visual: Clear grain gold with virtually no head of bubbles.

Nose: Orange, hops and syrup, slight citrus fresh. Gooseberries.

Body: Sweet with a backing of stable but strong hops. Orange and syrup. Light fudge, grapes, lemon curd and vanilla. Tingles on the tongue.

Finish: Lime, greenery and growling hops into lasting charred bitterness and sour lime juice.

Conclusion: Fantastic sweet and almost grape and wine feeling beer with a huge hope effort that counterbalances nicely.

Very much a mix of old and new, with the traditional grape and old recipe elements that call back to the Egyptian theme so prominent coming into direct clash with the new wave hop attack. Contrary to all you would expect this results in something wonderful.

Full flavoured and really plays with what can be done with the style, brilliant crafted – the sweet and hops are matched in perfect harmony.

So two beers at the festival so far and both are top notch.

Guest Taster: Dylan

Nose: Sweet/ sharp and sugary. Sweet fruit texture- elderberry.

Body: As with the nose, elderberry is very dominant. Very crisp, sharp but with a smooth tangy aftertaste.

Finish: Very Pleasant fruity beer leaving a tangy aftertaste. Very Good.

Random Quotes

“A well crafted son of a gun”

“A taste we should never forget – the old style ale”

Freeminer: Harvest Ale (England: ESB: 4.8% ABV)

Visual: Clear varnished mahogany with a brownish head.

Nose: Lots of wheat chaff seed, Milk chocolate and ash. Hops and some cream.Wood shavings and malt drinks.

Body: Decent hops, slight sourness. Cherry. Solid malt. Barley. Toffee,grain and milk chocolate.

Finish: Lime, malt chocolate. Light bitterness. Grapes. Ash, seeds.

Conclusion: An amazingly solid pint. Despite being part of the Co-op range,it manages not to follow Tesco Value lager into the “own brand are excrement” range.

Solid flavours, good sturdy body. An old style pint done with clear distinct flavours and a lovely lasting finish. Very harvest infused flavours they are too.

A brilliant balanced pint, wished I’d picked up a few more when I had the chance.

Mordue: Workie Ticket (England: ESB: 4.5% ABV)

Visual: Light clear caramel brown with a low bubbled head.

Nose: Light treacle, liquorice and hops. Slightly sour. Lemon.

Body: Bitter, milk chocolate and coffee. Slightest acid sourness. Treacle. Caramel.

Finish: Coffee, some chocolate. Treacle, charring and toffee.

Conclusion: Somewhat porter like ESB, with a lot of coffee and chocolate elements coming in. A workable bitter with an interesting twist and lots of toffee caramel elements makes something that really should work out a treat.

As it is its serviceable and with a lot of potential but just doesn’t quite fly high. Still a bit different and fun.

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