I can’t believe that I like this: Greene King – St Edmunds Golden Ale

20140616_193609Another short and sweet review today as I’ve built up a backlog due to sheer laziness.  Hold on to your hats, off we go…

A Greene King beer that I actually like?  Yes, I know.  I don’t believe it, either.

Arriving in a glass a lovely polished brass colour, St Edmund’s Golden ale looks appetising and comes in smaller 375ml (I think) bottles – which are ideal for this time of year where you just want a quick drink of something at a lunchtime and not a whole pint.

Lighty malty with a slightly spicy and almost “minty” hop aroma – I’m impressed.  Most GK beers I’ve had before have sweet FA in the way of nose.

Delicately effervescent and with that same light maltiness plus a not-so-meagre hand with the hopping make for quite a tasty enjoyable flavour and a lasting quenching bitterness.  Style-wise we’re pretty much smack on the money.

Apparently St Ed’s is made with Cascade, but I couldn’t really discern it in the flavour or the aroma…but I’m not too bothered.

Well done Greene king.  This isn’t a barn-stormer of a beer – and it’s not hugely complex, but it’s enjoyable and I haven’t said that about a GK beer for a long time.

http://www.greeneking.co.uk/index.asp?pageid=75

 

Not just for the birds: Wagtail Brewery – Best Bittern

20140607_191430I don’t know much about the Wagtail brewery, as their website is Spartan to say the least…but as long as they’re concentrating on making good beer, who cares…

Pouring out a pure copper colour with a thinnish oily-slick looking head (which means good proteins and normally good beer) it looks like a bitter should.

The aroma is solid crystal malt and a very yeasty fruitiness.  I suspect that this has a lot to do with the bottle conditioning – which is almost certainly the brewery strain and not some “other” yeast pitched just for bottling.

This is a very dry, bitter and solidly malty pint. It’s got a very dry finish – which wasn’t completely to my particular taste, but that’s no yardstick to its quality. It’s not a desperately complex flavour profile and there’s no hop character to speak of, it’s just a good solidly-bitter flinty-dry drop.

I can’t remember where this beer came from – but wherever it was I don’t think it was stored well as there was a strange tangy cheesiness in the flavour, which I’m sure is not representative of Wagtail’s normal output at all.

And the name…yes I get it.  Whatever next?  Pale Quail?

http://www.wagtailbrewery.com/

Ubiquity doesn’t always equal Mediocrity: Morland – Old Speckled Hen

A4_HR_OSH_500mlBottle_1

Speckled Hen is just one of those beers that you can’t get away from…  It’s everywhere, and because it’s so ubiquitous I always fought shy of it.  Mass-market penetration can sometimes spell mediocrity (think Doombar – that’s popular, but in my view, not that much of an interesting pint)

Pouring out a fine chestnut brown, with a tan head, Speckled Hen’s not a bad-looker of a pint at all.

The aroma is that of a proper brown beer, as it’s all malt and grainy goodness, there’s also a flinty-dry minerality which is quite enjoyable too.

The taste is mouth-filling malt, followed by small burst of sweetness and then a fairly restrained bitterness.  A little fruitiness follows and tails off into quite a pervasive malt ‘n’ bitter after-taste to leave you looking forward to the next sip.

It’s not my favourite beer by a long chalk, but a lot of people do like it and I can’t say I blame them at all…

http://www.oldspeckledhen.co.uk/products.php?beer=old-speckled-hen

(I can’t bear their website.  Do we really need a puppet fox to get us to drink beer?  FFS.  And Morland are owned by Green King?  Is there nothing left in this world that isn’t owned by GK!?)

Not quite the ugly duckling: Thornbridge – Wild Swan

WildSwan

God how I love the output of the Thornbridge brewery…their beers are always just so individual, well-crafted and delicious. Well, almost all of them are…I just can’t find it in my heart to be so effusive about Wild Swan.

I mean, you can see where it gets the name from: being beautifully light and pale, and all delicate looking in a glass.  The head is lacy and light as freshly spun gossamer threads.

In the aroma I got light, summery perfumed hoppiness – citrus notes just like you get in a decent white Semillion.  Wisps of very pale malt accompany a pineyness that’s as subtle as the fragrance of nearby forests on a Greek island beach.

I must confess that I found Wild Swan’s mouth-feel and taste to be a major let-down; it’s too over-carbonated – almost to the point of drowning out any other taste – and feels like having a mouthful of soda water.  When the bubbles eventually cleared, the malt seemed too thin and the hops just didn’t sing like they should have.

Then I swallowed the mouthful, and it was all gone – just like a Greek island holiday does: One minute it’s all sunshine and scenery and then, before you know it, it’s all over and you find yourself dumped outside the doors of Gatwick in the pissing rain.

Aroma-wise with Wild Swan we were pretty much there – but there just wasn’t enough in the taste to make this a really enjoyable beer.  It’s such a desperate shame as I love everything else from Thornbridge that I have ever tasted.

I know Wild Swan is only 3.5% ABV – but that’s just not an excuse…Adnams manage to put out a 3.4% beer that tastes amazing – but we all know that Adnams are past masters at making small things seem big: https://yeastismybitch.com/2013/10/29/adnams-lighthouse/

http://www.thornbridgebrewery.co.uk/beers.php

About a quarter way down the glass I handed it to Eve and said how disappointed I was with Wild Swan.  She sipped it and said “I could drink that all day” and proceeded to drain the glass.  Different strokes for different folks, I guess. Far be it from me to suggest that this might be an ideal beer for the ladies.  That would just be sexist…

Summer Storm Ale (A Hop Back Summer Lightning Clone) in a Braumeister

We’ve got a party coming up in a few weeks, there’s going to be a few people there who like their beer and I intend to serve them up something that’s befitting of the season…if not the weather.

As Hop Back Summer Lightning is THE summer beer that all others aspire to, I decided to work up a clone recipe.

Looking at other clones of HBSL, they all seem to be a bit light-handed with the East Kent Goldings hops and fairly hefty on the alcohol.  Because I don’t want a party full of slavering maniacs, I’ve dialled the gravity back a bit to 4.5% from the 5% of the original, and I’ve pumped the hops right up to make up for it. A WHOLE PACK in fact. God, it makes me feel alive to write that…

I used Chinook for bittering because I happened to have an opened pack in the freezer.  Normally I would have used some of a fresh pack of Target or Challenger, but I’m too tight-fisted for that.

Here’s the recipe:

Summer Storm Ale

I’m using US-05 yeast again because I love it a bit too much and it’ll rip through this wort like a chainsaw through a turd – probably finishing up at around 1009 or so and giving me those extra few points to 4.5%.

Of course US-05 is such a clean-living beast that it won’t over-power the whole thing with farty esters – meaning that even the rubbish-lager-loving dimbos* can enjoy it too.

(*not that we’ve invited any…)

I’ll let you all know how it turns out.  I must write up the notes about the HxPA too, mustn’t I?  Bad Jon.

(PS: I used whole hops too and managed not to bung the Braumeister up.  A simple sheet of fine-ish stainless steel mesh between the element and the tap hole saved me a ton of grief.  I’ll post some pictures when I remember.)