Tag Archive: Marble

Marble: Castle Of Udolpho (England: Old Ale: 10.4% ABV)

Visual: Very dark brown to black. Moderate frothy beige head.

Nose: Sour grapes. Sultanas. Sour apple. Vinous. Sour red wine. Oatmeal biscuits. Wheat.

Body: Oily. Malt drink. Nutty. Lightly bitter oils. Slightly chalky. Plums. Slight fizzy feel. Malt chocolate. Sour black cherries. Light charring. Sour wine. Cake sponge.

Finish Sour red and green grapes. Plums. Sour red wine. Madeira. Cloying notes. Sultanas. Gooseberry. Sour blueberry.

Conclusion: Oh old ale, I have miss you as a style. Not many people seem to make them these days. Or maybe I just miss them. That kind of cloying, sour, dark fruit beer that emphasises heavy character and class. They don’t tend to hit easy reward receptors, but take your time and they are lovely. Admittedly an acquired taste, but one I consider worth acquiring.

What I like here is that it has those thick, cloying sour notes all the way through – not acidic fresh like a lambic but heavy sour grapes and sultanas. The best, high concept description I can give of this is like red wine soaked plums and sultanas mashed into an oatmeal biscuit then blended and drunk. Yes, exactly like that.

There are sweeter notes, but they are light releases, short lived bursts – usually Madeira notes or slight sweeter fruit – but generally it is thicker charactered. There are some darker grounding notes, such as slight charring or slight chalk -but not heavily so. It seems the brewer knows that too many of those notes would break the balance on this which already demands a lot from the drinker. Instead they push savoury nutty and oily notes that seep in along the sour notes – grounding them but still letting the important dark fruit elements free to do their work.

The vinous notes from the barrel ageing are so closely intertwined with the base beer I find it hard to say where one ends and the other begins. They definitely bring more fruitiness, but the booming character of Pinot Noir now ties its wagons to the more sour characteristics of the old ale. It expands the range of flavour but does not alter the base character. A definite example of barrel ageing done well. A great return to the old ale style here.

Background: I’ve had this in the cupboard for a few months now – as a big beer I felt it would last. This one is a beer named in reference to Ann Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho – not a book I’ve read, but as a fan of the Gothic tales I should possibly check it out some time. More importantly this beer is an old ale aged in Pinot Noir barrels, which sounds good by me- Pinot Noir is one of the few wines I can usually identify by taste. This was grabbed from Independent Spirit and drunk while listening to Genitorturers -Flesh Is The Law. I’ve been meaning to check them out more since I was first introduced to the band by the Vampire: Bloodlines video game, and later by Diamanda Hagan’s reviews (Hail Hagan!), but only just got around to grabbing some music for myself. S&M themed heavy industrial tunes may not be to everyone’s taste, but if that sounds good to you – check them out.

Weird Beard Marble Bullfinch You Taste Better When You Are Scared

Weird Beard: Marble: Bullfinch: You Taste Better When You Are Scared (England: IPA: 6.5% ABV)

Visual: Hazy apricot flesh. An inch or so of off white bubbled head that leaves suds.

Nose: Pink grapefruit. Melon. Light nettles.

Body: Pink grapefruit. Light hop character. Pineapple. Malt drinks. Acrid touch at the back. Peach fruit syrup. Light toffee.

Finish: Malt chocolate. Acrid touch. Pineapple. Fruit syrup. Muted musty hops. Lactose touch.

Conclusion: So, acidulated malt is a thing? You learn something new every day. usually something pointless, but today is a good day. However, for a beer crammed full of hops and acidic grapefruit juice on top of the acidulated malt, it is odd that it feels quite so traditionally malt led.

Don’t get me wrong, the flavour is a mix of pineapple and pink grapefruit – however I’ve had New Zealand hopped beers that tasted sharper than this. mainly Nelson Sauvin single hop admittedly.

There is just such a malt drink back, kind of a touch American brown ale style and it makes what should be a sharp beer actually feel slightly leaden. It tastes ok, but doesn’t really taste like an IPA, in that there is no real bitterness or hop kick, and the tart character definitely lacks against expectations.

As a beer in itself it is ok, slightly tart but generally fairly mellow. Against what it is pitched as it is fairly disappointing. It isn’t bad, but the special ingredients actually seem to contribute less than what you get with a judicious use of hops, and that special character seems to have killed what the hops themselves bring. Heck, straight up grapefruit juice has more of a kick.

An experiment that doesn’t really pay off.

Background: A collaboration! Woo! I’ve run into Marble and Weird Beard a bunch of times now, Bullfinch are a new one on me. This is made with 100KG of acidulated malt – the kind of malt often used for berliner weisse and such like, and is added along with fresh grapefruit juice. So, a grapefruit IPA – of course I grabbed it, I am easily hooked with such things. I have the attention span of a cat near a red laser pointer. Picked up from independent Spirit, and drunk while listening to the ever cool Sabaton: Coat of Arms.

Marble: Decadence (England: Imperial Stout: 8.7% ABV)

Visual: Black. Quite large creamy brown head for the style.

Nose: Roasted nuts. Olives. Slight almost washing up liquid like elements. Apricot.

Body: Quite roasted and bitter. Bitter chocolate. Slight cream. Olives found only when the beer is on the front of the tongue. The chocolate becomes smother over time. Slight apricot.

Finish: Black coffee. Slight olives. Dry and with roasted nuts, in fact very roasted right to the end. Cocoa heavy chocolate. Light apricot. Slight roasted hop character. Quite dry and dusty.

Conclusion:  Quite subtle for an imperial stout this one. Moderate alcohol for the style and moderate punch to match. It seems to concentrate on it’s roasted nature and has quite a small, though interesting as we shall see, range for the style.

It uses chocolate well to support the main body, initially very bitter cocoa, heading into a creamier sweeter style over time. The roasted character that backs it has a hop element, but not particularly extreme thankfully.  Here the subtlety is a distinct advantage.

Against this it has some evident flaws.  A slight washing up style aroma that seems unique to English Imperial Stouts. I don’t know where the hell this comes from, but I’ve spotted it in several English Imperial Stouts now and I wish they could get rid of it.

Anyone who has read the main notes above will realise I am however dancing around the most interesting point here. Olives. First spotted by my friend (see discussion in the background for more info) but distinctly there at top and tail. There is a light olive touch that is odd and an interesting enough element by itself to make me glad I tried the beer.  It isn’t a huge part of the beer, does it does help it to make the style it’s own.

The beer is nicely smooth, with decent flavours and a nice twist.  Not hugely impactful on flavour and can’t compete with say, Stones Imperial Stout, which is it’s most close comparison.  It is a good beer though, and interesting, but not quite playing in the big leagues.

Background: Marble have had a growing rep for a while. I tried hitting their pub in Manchester last time I was there but got out voted. I found this bottle of their Decadence at Utobeer, where the kind chap at the store highly recommended it (incidentally I bumped into the same fellow in the pub later and didn’t recognize him at first. Many apologies! )

Note: The olives element was a much disputed part of the beer, we had two tasters comparing notes and debated extensively on this one.  Eventually an exchange of glasses was done and we realized that the glass shown below in fact helped massively with identifying that element – it was utterly unmistakable in that glass, and yet barely evident in the glass shown above. Odd how much difference glassware can make.


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