In all seriousness: Vale – Gravitas Bitter


I know.  It’s a funny name for a beer isn’t it?  Still, I can’t accuse it of frippery or frivolity with a name like that (and the label’s not least bit goofy either, so all good there)

Gravitas arrives in the glass a light yellow colour with a very nice-looking – but not long-lasting, foamy white head.

The aroma is softly malty with some vegetal hops mixed in.  This is about the right amount of hoppiness for a hoppy bitter – the aroma isn’t desperately citrussy but that’s OK, because I don’t like my bitter to remind me of a US-style IPA.

There’s a real solidity in the body of Gravitas and a lovely bitterness that seems to amplify as you go on, in some ways it’s very much like Hop Back’s Summer Lightning but just has enough bitterness to keep it out of the golden/summer ale category and squarely in the bitter category.  In the malt bill there’s a juicy fruitiness that you’d normally expect from a much darker beer, which further helps to keep the bitter style going.

A glorious earthy/citrus-hoppiness makes Gravitas a really refreshing drop – and with a lovely after-taste and lasting bitterness means it stays interesting right to the bottom of the glass.

I genuinely enjoyed it.  This is another Summer go-to beer.

Vale Brewery: Thame’in of the Brew

Thame_in_of_The_Brew-1378829210This beer wins the prize for most convoluted name of a beer ever, and it seems we’ve got a certain Jim Crew to thank for it.  No, I didn’t know who he was, either.  Full disclosure on how it came about, who he is, etc. here:

(it’s not that exciting a story, but the Bucks free press must take what they can, I guess…mind you, if they’re looking for a beer or restaurant reviewer I’m only an email away…think of that BFP, I could increase your readership by literally a few a week)

But anyway, enough about Mr Crew and his crazy brew-naming*…

I enjoyed this, as I do many a good, well-kept pint, at the Black Prince in Woodstock.  Appearing in a pint glass, TOTB is crystal clear and a really lovely gingery colour.

On the aroma I got a good noseful of firm maltiness, all backed up by a gentle undercurrent of minerality.   TOTB was clean-tasting, with a little bitterness upfront and nicely malty with a slight fruitiness from the yeast evident.

The after-taste was long-lasting and brought along an enduring bitterness and some hop notes.

All-in-all this was tasty, fruity and interesting.  I recommend scoring yourself a pint if you see it on sale.

(*PS: I suspect Will Shakespeare also creaked around in his grave a bit too…)

Loose Cannon: Bombshell and Vale: Metroland

I found these couple of reviews kicking about in my notebook.  I seem to remember them being from sometime around the end of June (which was just before my son was born, so that’s probably why I forgot to upload them!)  These are not full reviews as I’m only going on the notes I’ve got…

My notes also say that these were both part of a Friday lunchtime drink at the Black Prince in Woodstock…and joy of joys they’re both local: Loose Cannon hang out in Abingdon and Vale are based in Brill.  Nice.


Loose Cannon: Bombshell
Straw coloured and slightly hazy due to assumed dry hopping.

An extraordinary hop aroma, well on par with anything Thornbridge produces: strong and penetrating vegetal, greenery, ozoney, cirtusy and almost seaweedy nose.

Very light malt but with a really good bitterness and complex hop flavour all meshed under a comforting alcoholic warmth.


indexVale: Metroland

Very odd name, and in a similar vein to the bombshell, so it was a little bit of a shame to have the both on the same bill as it meant I had to choose a favourite…and Metroland was mine, but only by a smidge.

Excellent hop aroma, strong clear and bright.  Very evident in the taste too was bright lemon and citrus.  A little more in the way of malt weight than the bombshell which was probably what made it for me.

Very nicely matched malt, alcohol and hop regime leading to a perfectly balanced taste. One of the most accomplished beers I’ve had for a while.