Tag Archive: Old Ale


theakston-old-peculier

Theakston: Old Peculier (England: Old Ale: 5.6% ABV)

Visual: Very dark brown to black. Inch of creamy brown froth that leaves suds.

Nose: Lightly nutty. Earthy bitterness.

Body: Cherries. Light earthiness. Malt chocolate drinks. Slight sour back. Vinous red grapes.

Finish: Malt chocolate. Light vinous grapes. Lightly earthy. Cocoa dust. Peppery.

Conclusion:Another beer in the “earthy hops doesn’t have to mean dull” category. We have very specific categories these days. Anyway, here we have a fruity, lightly sour, old ale touched with vinous notes and then stamped with a good chunk of earthy hoppiness.

It is a good mix – used well the earthy notes grounds (no pun intended) the beer. It takes what could be a very heavy beer, an enjoy one then leave it be beer, and turns it into a soothing beer you can have a couple of. Still not a session abv beer, but one that is that mid point between session and heavy duty. Now, this does mean that it isn’t as deep and rich as a lot of old ales. Then again, as referenced, it also has a lower abv that most of those, so it really isn’t fighting for that niche anyway.

It feels like the child of an earthy bitter and an old ale – both share that slight sourness, but the old ale gives the fruitiness and more vinous character that makes this really enjoyable. It straddles the two styles – concentrates on the middle ground rather than aiming to challenge too much – but out of mainstreams ales this is one of my old reliables.

Possible it is because it is a mainstream beer not afraid to push that light sourness and old ale character. Posisbly it is because it matches those tart vinous notes while still keeping the solid British earthy ale influence that makes it refreshing rather than heavy duty. Any which way it may not rock the stars, but for what it aims to do and the market it aims at it is something very nice. It is a beer that is easy to find and does it solid and I very much enjoy it for that.

Background: Last of the beers I was given for Christmas by a college at work – many thanks! After a quick google I find out that is this not a misspelling in the name – a “Peculier” is an “ecclesiastical district, parish, chapel or church outside the jurisdiction of the bishop of the diocese in which it is situated.” Who says beer doesn’t help you learn? Anyway, I have been drinking Old Peculier for a while – it was one of those beers I enjoyed even before becoming a beer nut. Common opinion thinks that it used to be a heavier abv, thicker beer – which sounds about tight to me, though I have never been able to find anything to officially confirm or deny it. Possibly I just remembering as being bigger compared to everything else I drank at the time.

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Alesmith Olde Ale

Alesmith: Olde Ale (USA: Old Ale: 11% ABV)

Visual: Dark cloudy brown to red with greyed to brown bubbled froth of a head.

Nose: Sultanas. Sour red grapes and port. Christmas cake. Nutmeg. Cherries. Buttery shortbread. Cinnamon.

Body: Big vinous and sour character. Sour grapes. Sultanas. Buttery shortbread. Madeira cake and Christmas cake. Cinnamon. Creamy character. Some alcohol tingle. Malt chocolate. Cake sponge.

Finish: Sultanas and raisins. Malt chocolate. Vinous. Sour grapes. Some bitterness. Lightly herbal tea. Cake sponge. Cinnamon.

Conclusion: British style old ale they say? British style ma son? Bit of a bold statement there guv. Let’s take a look at you then.

So, yeah, you’ve get some vinous going on lad, bit of the red wine and Christmas cake on the I suppose* there, gets proper lovely jubbly there it does.

However, me old china**, you’ve overplayed your hand. What is this? Bit of the old buttery shortbread? Bit of smooth play here, you are not from around these parts are ye? Too smooth for that mate. Now, that ain’t a criticism mate, you do good, but it is a dead give away like.

Course, you do give it a good try, big vinous body, lots of warming alcohol character that warns you that you will be a bit Oliver Twist*** by the end of this. Seriously, at 75cl and 11% it will knock a drinker right on your arris***** son if they don’t share it with their droogs******. But even there, in that big punch of sour grapes and Christmas Cake&, you couldn’t let it go, could you? Nah mate, buttery shortbread again – smooth as silk, you just had to show off didn’t you.

Now, I am impressed, and it takes a lot to impress this geeza, but I have to ask. American, right? You do the same with Belgian beer styles, make ’em smooth as silk. Again, not complainin’, but it’s a bit fancy ya know? Anyway, well worth the bees and honey&& it costs for something a bit different.

Lots of sour wine like old ale, lots of smooth as silk as a bit of a twist. give it a good old butchers&&&

*nose

** mate aka friend.

***pissed****

**** aka drunk

***** Arse aka bottom.

****** What do you mean you haven’t watched ” A Clockwork Orange”?, for shame.*******

******* – No that isn’t what it means, I was just venting.

& Not rhyming slang. I actually mean Christmas Cake.

&& Money. Yeah, I know, this one was new to me as well.

&&& Look.

Background: Bottled 04/03/14 (UK Style date) Drunk tail end 2015. They call this a British style ale proudly on the front of the bottle. Over a picture of Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland. Now I am about to be amazingly pedantic, but Ireland isn’t part of Britain. We deliberately made up many different ways of grouping the countries, with different names for each, so to confuse everyone so we can be pedantic when you get it wrong. Because we are evil. If they had put UK style ale I would have understood – just showing Northern Ireland would have been confusing geographically so I could have forgiven that the entirety of Ireland was on there. Anyway … drunk while listening to Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven. A name that is almost as long as playing the damn CD. Nice chilled backing music for beer.

Harviestoun Old Engine Oil

Harviestoun: Old Engine Oil (Scotland: Old Ale: 6% ABV)

Visual: Black. Thin grey brown bubbles for a head.

Nose: Light lactose under roasted nuts. Vanilla. Lightly chalky. Chocolate milk shake. Milky coffee.

Body: Bitter chocolate. Peanuts. Vanilla toffee. Bourbon. Lightly chalky. Liquorice. Earthy bitterness. Sour dough. Chocolate liqueur. Oily. Treacle. Sour dark fruit and raisins.

Finish: Oily and tarry. Rye bourbon. Charred oak. Bitter earthiness. Cheese puffs. Sour tang. Bitter chocolate.

Conclusion: You know, I’ve known for years that this beer does, in fact, come in non barrel aged version AKA this beer. Yet only now do I try it and do notes. It actually tastes kind of like it had been aged in rye bourbon barrels. Go figure.

It is mainly that vanilla toffee influence and rye spiciness that makes me think of that, and with all that no wonder it made for such a good base for barrel ageing, it is half way there already.

The non barrel aged tasting parts of this non barrel aged beer seem to float half way between a bitter cocoa infused imperial stout and a well made old ale. That is without needing actual coca or the amount of alcohol and imperial stout would have. There is a sweet chocolate front, but it quickly kicks bitter as hell and then the old ale style comes in with dark tart fruit grounded by a traditional earthy hoppiness that calls to mind the Black IPA style.

Frankly all that means that it is punching way above its weight class, and yet comparatively easy drinking due to the smoothness and lower abv (lower is comparative on something kicking out at 6% abv of course). While the tail end is pretty heavy in the oily characteristics, the next sip taken washes that way with the sweet and smooth chocolate front that comes in before the bite.

This is rounded, robust and right up my alley. Really rocking the range and rewarding revisiting. For such a heavy duty beer it doesn’t weight to heavy but gives so much. Definitely worth your time.

Background: Many thanks to the Independent Spirit of Bath for this, the second bottle given to me for tasting noting. As always I will try to be unbiased, with the only advantage given being that it gets shove do the front of the to be uploaded queue, which only seems polite. I drank Old Dubh 40 Year ages back as one of my first tasting notes and loved it, so it is cool to finally go with the unaged version.

Wild Beer Stalker

Wild Beer Co: Stalker (England: Old Ale: 7% ABV)

Visual: Very dark red to brown. Thin smoke colour touched head.

Nose: Sour red grapes. Malt chocolate. Very light vinegar sharpness early on. Red wine. Rum soaked sultanas.

Body: Sour cherries. Madeira cake. Malt chocolate. Thick feel. Light earthy character. Red wine and raisins.

Finish: Malt drinks. Earthy notes. Bitter chocolate. Banana pie touches.

Conclusion: While I, and ratebeer it seems, have come to the conclusion this is an old ale, it manages to give a lot of the characteristics of that style, without the excessive weight that can come with some of them. In fact I would consider this beer slightly dangerous in that it does not give any hint of that 7% it is packing.

In fact the less alcohol feel means that there is almost an ESB call to the use of the flavours, with lots of raisins, red wine notes and red fruit which reminds me of Fuller’s ESB, but more complex and vinous. The aroma initially had some hint of sharper notes, but that soon smoothes out. As is you get a few of the more sour wine notes showing, but mainly a lot of influence from malt chocolate flavoured backbone and lots of raisins. Now the beer doesn’t have the complexity of Modus Operandi, and MO is by far the better beer, but this is very interesting and gives you a greater respect for where MO came from.

This is a nice wee beer, a bit strong in abv for what it brings but still pretty good. It is worth noting that it was a bloody hot day that I drank this one, and it survived that less than optimal environment well, which I will give it points for, but it is definitely more of a Winter beer.

Overall though it is very satisfying, a just sour touched enough malt heavy beer. Interesting and good if not great like some of its Wild Beer siblings. It still gives enough depth to while away the time with.

Background: I’ve been meaning to do more cask beers for a while. I also adore Wild Beer Company Beers. This, therefore is the perfect thing for me to find. Drunk on cask tap at the Small Bar in Bristol. First time I’ve been there, pretty nice tap list and friendly staff. This is the base beer for Modus Operandi, served here in its unaged form. Not sure why it is called Stalker, as it doesn’t appear to have any links to a Russian mercenary on its way to Chernobyl. If you get that reference you are probably a geek as well.

CIMG2015

Wild Beer Co: Modus Operandi (England: Old Ale: 7% ABV)

Visual: Dark red brown. Very large crisp bubbled head that has mounds and troughs. Quite a bit of carbonation mid body. Lots of lace and suds left as the head descends.

Nose: Malt chocolate and tart cherry. Orange liquore. Fortified wine. Lime cheesecake. Sugared almonds. Dried apricot. Cider, and at other times champagne. Funky oak.

Body: Malt chocolate. Plums and raisins. Tart apple freshness. Nuttiness. Cherries. Vinous and with grapes. Thick texture.

Finish: Apples. Chocolate. Fresh feel mixed in with malt. Quite dry on the tongue, yet fresh at roof of mouth. Rich red wine.

Conclusion: No I’m not making that range of aroma’s up. I started with the beer chilled and then let it warm, bringing out a huge range of both aroma’s and flavours as it did so.

I will admit I was expecting something tarter than I got, mainly due to the mention of wild yeast. This comes in much closer to its old ale base than the Belgium sour ales that I usually imagine with such yeast. Here what you get is some extra play from the yeast and oak that adds to rather than utterly changing the base beer.  You get a very vinous ale, with big hit of malt chocolate. The odd twist comes in the cider apples to champagne fresh aroma, and the main body has distinct apple traces at tomes. In fact the body also gets a bit of fresh froth that calls to champagne at times. Not hugely, but just images that come up as you drink.   When you add in a mix of dark fruit then I get the impression that their claims this beer will age well are well backed.

The first of the Wild Beer Co’s beers that lives fully up to the company name, and a very solid beer with tons of play. At times you get orange liquore and lime dancing out to play, and I wouldn’t be surprised if future bottles grace me with more new flavours on sampling.

Flaws? Well in it’s youth the malt chocolate can dominate a bit, and it lays a bit heavy on the finish as well.  It is a beer that seems to crave ageing to let it balance itself perfectly.

Overall however it is a fine beer, a good balance of British old ale, craft class and Belgium funk. A rough gem now in it’s youth, but with lots of depth and very enjoyable.

Background: the Wild Beer Co describe this as “the first beer we’ve brewed is a beer that really shows what we are all about” and from the description you can see why. Old Ale, wild yeast and ninety days ageing in wood.  As a fan of Belgium sour ales this sounded like an interesting mix of British and Belgium styles.  I saved this for last from the three wild beer company beers I had bought and saved it for when I could appreciate it. Bought at “Corks Of Cotham” who seem to have an ever increasing range of decent beer both local and world. Going by rate beer this edition was aged in Bourbon barrels.

Moor: Fusion (2010) (England: Old Ale: 8% ABV)

Visual: Black with a creamy beige head.

Nose: Mocha. Bitter, yet quite fresh – pear drops. Twigs and roasted nuts. Slight apple. Rounded out with light vanilla yogurt. After time distinct coffee comes through.

Body: Vinous character and very slick textured. Grapes. Bitter back. Fruitcake. Light coffee comes through in the centre. Milky chocolate drinks. Quite sour touches. Light apple crumble and light toffee

Finish: Fresh yet matched with dry malt and bitter chocolate. Sour. Cooking apples. Slick almost liquore feel.

Conclusion:  Now I recently tried the Old Freddy Walker which makes up the base of this beer, and it was pretty good, but often its sour elements overpowered its subtleties.

This then smoothes out the excesses that came before it and really give the flavour room to roam.   This really makes the base beer so much more appreciable. The sourness lightens and now is only an interesting influence on the chocolate filled middle.

Where it goes the extra mile is that slight extra freshness and fruitiness that the apply brandy casks bring.  Again this is subtle and not overpowering, but gives that slight smoother and more complex to the beer. A light apple crumble element that makes it deliciously easy to drink.

Still carries a lot of the vinous tendencies that I have come to expect in old ales, so its like drinking a wine porter.

So what are the flaws then, well it does take a while to properly get into gear, but when it gets going you can forgive it that. It doesn’t quite bring enough to the table to enter the world shakers league, but when that’s the worst criticism I can level then its damn good sign that they made the beer good.

Background: This is a beer based on the “Old Freddy Walker” ale but aged in Somerset Cider casks. Old Freddy Walker was I beer I enjoyed, but had several flaws that made it one I would not go for regularly.   According to Moors website, only 700 beers were made foe each of the 2010 and 2009 releases.  This 2010 release was drunk in the first third of 2011. Incidentally their tagline “Drink Moor Beer” gets on my nerves something rotten for a reason I cannot explain.  Drunk whilst listening to Gogol Bordello:  Immigraniada (We Comin’ Rougher) a song I highly recommend.

Moor: Old Freddie Walker (England: Old Ale: 7.5% ABV)

Visual: Utter opaque black with a cream coffee brown head.

Nose: Bitter coffee, charcoal. Chalk. Red wine and sour gooseberries.

Body: Milk chocolate, raisins. Fruitcake mixed with figs. Bitter and bready. Rum with white wine underlay. Slightly oily. Black cherry.

Finish: Slick, but with a chalky hint. Bitter, touch of black cherry. Vinous. Lots of fruitcake, bitter chocolate and grapes.

Conclusion: I’ve often talked about how the environment of drinking affects the beers, and in the case of darker beers cold is the worst enemy, freezing up their pleasing aromas and accompanying tastes.

Such was nearly the fate of this beer.  The initial pour seemed lacklustre and weak until I noticed the cold feel of the glass. Short moments of heating later I returned to the tasting with significantly improved results.

Sour and almost wine like front and finish, the dark fruity beast that makes up the main body is sandwiched between these challenging bookends. There is still a wine influence to the body, but with fruitcake and milk chocolate mixed into its bitter traits.

The beer seems to play catch me if you can with your taste buds, the rich flavours often seem fleeting before its sour gooseberry counterparts. It doesn’t always work, but it is a very distinctive stylistic choice for the beer, and really stands out from the crowd. This is a beer you wrestle meaning from rather than an open book.

The sour sometimes overpowers the complexity, but it’s a good shot at something different.

Background:  Ratebeer lists this as a porter, when taste wise I could swear that it is its close cousin, the old ale. Oddly the bottle text agrees with me so I’m going to go with old ale here.  Moor is a beer company with a great rep, but one that I’ve never really understood. The beers I’ve tried aren’t bad, but none so far have shaken my world.  This is part of my continuing quest to work out their appeal.

Addendum:  Recently I had this on tap. Much smoother and thicker, with less sourness. The beer was significantly better on cask and on that I would highly recommend it.  A really great beer

Old Chimney: Red Clover (England: Old Ale: 6.2% ABV)

Visual: Dark hazy red, quite bubbly with a decent sized and steady bubble rich head.

Nose: Rich cinnamon, port and cloves. Cherry and chocolate. Plums and raisins. Really dark and fruity. Condensed cream. Almost an edible dessert in itself

Body: Figgy pudding, fruitcake and digestives. Bitter heart, good malt then bitter chocolate traces. Red wine, banana, chives leaves and liquorice.

Finish: Chives, dry hops and bitter chocolate.

Conclusion: This is a wonderful little bottle of beer. Wonderfully fruity with a slight bitter/chocolate back. Tantalising nose and, appropriately enough for an old ale, feels very aged and traditional.

A good British ale, and one with all the trimmings. Quick rich and obviously herb influenced. A warming dark and rich ale, could do fine as a winter warmer.

Batemans: Rosey Nosey (England: Old Ale: 4.9% ABV)

Visual: Varnished mahogany body with a beige bubbled head that sits lightly upon it.

Nose; Glazed cherries, grain, liquorice and hops.

Body: Sugary cherry. Bitter. Battenberg. Wheat, slightly sour. Almonds. Orange. Syrupy, fruitcake. Raisin and faint lemon.

Finish: Dry hops, with a following dry tongue feel, Cherry again.

Conclusion: Not very impressive. The bitter core hides most of the cherry elements and the subtleties are pretty much absent.

It doesn’t make you wish for the end of the world rather than drink it, but when that’s the best you can say, it’s probably not worth grabbing a bottle.

Arbor Ale: Snuffy Jacks Old Ale (England: Old Ale: 5.9% ABV)

Visual: Dark brown black with a thin dash of an off white head.

Nose: Lovely milky coffee and a summer days breeze. A hint of oak.

Body: Bitter up front then slips into sweet coffee liquor. A medium body with something almost like lettuce then sustained bitter again.

Finish: Chocolate, dry dusty attic. Some aniseed.

Conclusion: Not bad, but if suffers heavily from coming so soon after the Beer Geek Brunch Weasel.

The bitterness on this beer tends to overwhelm the more subtle elements and the finish does not quite work. However it does have a nice sweet middle when you take a good gulp. It’s still not anything special.

Nothing too exciting for the style, but its an ok beer I guess.

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