Tag Archive: Wagtail


Wagtail Brewery Best Bittern

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.

Wagtail Ale-Next-The Sea
Wagtail: Ale-Next-The Sea (England: Bitter: 4% ABV)

Visual: Chestnut brown to toffee. Brown inch of bubbles.

Nose: Malt chocolate. Slightly nutty. Lightly floral.

Body: Nutty. Walnut cake. Moderate bitterness. Lightly earth. Coriander. Slight malt drinks.

Finish: Coffee cake. Earthy bitterness. Carrot.

Conclusion: After a mix of good bears that really show off the traditional British style, and one really weak beer that just let the side down, we then get this. A beer that is basically exactly what you would expect from a traditional British bitter, no more and no less.

This is, therefore a nutty, earthy ale; Slightly bitter – basically what a bitter is but nothing else. Ok, that is slightly harsh – there is a mild coffee and walnut cake taste to it. That is the one spin of the dice where it chances trying something just slightly different. Not much, but it is an element.

This is a hard beer to hate, but that is because it doesn’t do too much. Then again, when I say that, it is a hard beer to hate if you like bitters. People with a sweet tooth or people who hate earthy beers will not like it at all. The biggest problem is that it doesn’t give you much reason to overly like it either, it is just so very average.

So, if any other decent choice is on offer, go for that. Otherwise, if you have just Fosters and John Smiths as other options, well this aint utterly terrible like they are.

Not much more to say than that, it is, well, meh.

Background: Anyone get the feeling this time of the year is when I stock up on notes on bitters? Another of the Norfolk beers from the family. Many thanks! I kept almost adding the word “to” in the middle of the name. It just looks wrong to my eyes. Anyway, as before, drank back with the family.

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