26 May 2006

That's better

Still in England. Today I went to a supermarket and chose a couple of beers off the shelf, in between sobs at the price difference compared to back home where English ale is a speciality product.

I came away with Wadworth 6X, which is one of the better bitters. It's not quite as sharp as my Bateman's benchmark, but a fruity smoothness comes in to compensate for that. A well-balanced beer, all in all.

My big find, however, was Daleside Duff. This is a fantastically complex beer and achieves the Holy Grail of English bitter by being smooth and easy-drinking while still loaded with flavour. It's all there in spades. Welcome to the pantheon.

25 May 2006

Tales from the Dual Carriageway

I'm in England today and just went for a couple of pints in an uber-generic off-ramp pub, the kind of which dots arterial roads from Truro to Sunderland. I was quite pleased, in such a wash of generic lagers, to find Old Speckled Hen on tap. Old Speckled Hen is the kind of English beer that other beers should look up to. On tap, however, it is a whole different ball-game, it seems. What I received was ice-cold with a frothy nitrogen head and took about half an hour in the sun to develop something resembling the taste of Old Speckled Hen from a bottle. However, I'm taking a positive slant on this: by drinking this beer by the bottle back home I am getting a better experience than those consuming it in the pub in its country of origin.

From the same McPub I tried Bombardier. This was at least honest in its approach (or maybe it's just that I've never had it from a bottle). Again it was cold and frothy, but this time there was no attempt at flavour: this is one of those ultra-smooth ales which goes down silkily but basically tastes like air. It's not an unpleasant experience, by any means, but it really drives one's thirst for a decent cask ale.

21 May 2006

Blanche, Blonde, Bleuh

Ch'ti is a range of French artisan beers sold in 75cl bottles. The Blanche and Blonde are fairly commonplace in Irish supermarkets. I'm not a fan of either, however. Ch'ti Blanche is a cloudy witbier but is intesely bitter with no fruit flavour offering relief. I had high hopes of the Blonde: at 6.4% alcohol a comparison with Leffe would be in order, I thought. Instead this is a very plain, vapid lager with very little flavour of any kind.

I know France isn't a beer-drinking culture, but there are some good French beers out there: Jenlain springs immediately to mind. I expected better of Ch'ti and won't be trying it again.

07 May 2006

Früli amazing

It is not my intention to turn this blog into a rolling account of the seasonal beers available at the Porterhouse, but I can’t pass without mentioning the incumbent. Früli is in the Belgian light fruit beer genre. The base is a gently frothy inert wheat beer, but the overwhelming character comes from the fruit, strawberries in this case. And they did not skimp on the strawberries, either: Früli is a solid opaque red colour with more than a hint of the smoothie about its appearance and taste. It seems pretty obvious that tub after tub of real strawberries have simply been liquidised and dropped into the mix, juice-bar style. The result is outstanding: 100% fruit drink, yet 100% beer. Nice one.