When buying your pants and socks, pick up a bottle of this too: M&S (by Adnams) – Mosaic Pale Ale

20140711_204150I had to go to London the other week and was merely browsing in Marylebone station for something to break up a twenty and get me some loose change.  I’m glad I looked past the packets of crisps to the beer section…

I’ve been intrigued by Mosaic hops as they seem to be the new variety on the block and they’ve been mightily hyped by our brewing cousins in the US, so I wanted to see if they deserved that hype.  Isn’t it great that some of the supermarkets are engaging decent brewers to cook-up some excellent “own-brand” beers?  By Adnams brewing this up for M&S I was able to take the Mosaic taste test without too much worry of the beer being a dud…

Mosaic Pale Ale is a marvellous gingery-brown and has a head that doesn’t hang about.

The aroma…my crikey, the aroma…rich and heady, almost like – as spike Milligan would say – the incense-drugged bazaars of the Occident;  for some reason it reminded me a bit of Turkish delight – it’s that intoxicating.  Now I remember where I’ve smelt it…the Souk in Marrakech: that’s what it’s like and it’s all fragrant and mysterious and unusual because of it.   As well as that beautiful overlying aroma there’s also tropical fruits by the bucket.

Blimey, folks, this is a single hop beer and it delivers all of this.  Marvellous.

A velvety smooth mouth feel with a pleasing bitterness starts off our journey to taste-town.  Like a can of Lilt it’s totally tropical, whilst also having a definite complexity about it…but – and it is a but, I’m afraid: there’s a little too much carbonation for my liking, especially for this strength of beer (4.2%); and the malt could also do with beefing up a bit – so that it really shines through.  The carbonation and the current malt bill make this beer seem just a teeny bit “thin”.

I’d have liked to have a real slab of solid biscuity malt in the taste (but no crystal malt, thanks!) to make this an absolute belter of a beer.  Hops with this power, potency and delicacy need to be supported by a more forceful malt bill and maybe a touch higher alcohol (late 5’s to 6% would not be unreasonable.)

But:  It’s a supermarket own-brand beer – and for that M&S and Adnams should really be commended.  As M&S are stocking this, lets hope the masses get to drink it instead of the lagery-piss and joyless “bitters” that they normally pick up from other supermarkets.  Folks, maybe we are starting to see our beer market properly craftifying (you heard that word here first!)

In honour of this beer, I will be making something big and hefty featuring Mosaic.  It’s a hop that’s just too good too ignore…

PS: Just read the back of the bottle – which says that Mosaic Pale Ale goes well with (Morrocan) Lamb Tagine.  That seems absurdly apposite – especially when only a few lines back I was rambling about the Souk in Marrakech…

PPS: Pimms beer, that’s what Eve reckons it is.  Something for tucking away on sunny Saturday afternoon….

PPPS: When getting the link for the M&S website I see they have quite a range of exciting-looking beers.  Maybe they’ll send me some to review.  Bet you a tenner they don’t…

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