07 September 2007

Unendangered species

I feel I'm letting the national side down on this month's Session. A couple of weeks earlier and I'd be adding a Headless Dog to the Brew Zoo. My quest for unusual animal-themed beer took me to off licences right across Dublin, but there were no really weird creatures to be found. So instead, I present three beers that are new to me, but which are probably common-or-garden varieties to the rest of you.

First up is Badger Ales' Tanglefoot, which proclaims on the label to be "light", "crisp" and "smooth", which immediately set my alarm bells ringing. It's not all that bad, though. Sure, it's not a classic by the standards of English ale, but there's a lightness of touch about the mellow fruit flavour and gently bitter aftertaste that's rather pleasurable. The fact that it's 5% ABV is astounding and I guess it would sneak up on you quite quickly after a few. But then, everyone knows how vicious badgers can be.

From an English ale to an American take on an English ale: Goose Island Honker's. To my mind, this migratory bird is much more at home among its own kind to the west of the Atlantic. The characteristically American hops bitterness is here tempered by a certain candy sweetness, but frankly there's not enough of either to make this truly enjoyable. Like the Tanglefoot, however, it is well made, and would make a great quaffing ale if it only were sold in quaffable quantities.

What makes the Brew Zoo better than the other sort is its cryptozoological section, where they keep the Hobgoblins, les Chouffes, the Kelpies, and my last candidate: Bigfoot. This is Sierra Nevada's 9.6% ABV barleywine, and for once you won't hear me kvetch about the bottle size. Bigfoot is a huge beer. Somewhere there's a rich caramel flavour and a citrus hoppiness trying to get out, but they're utterly crushed under the harsh alcoholic bitterness. This guy needs a cage to himself.

Thanks to Rick of Lyke2Drink for hosting: I really had to do my homework on this one, but it was definitely the most fun Session yet.


  1. Tanglefoot is aptly named after you've had a few too many. It, along with others from the Badger brewery, is readily available in the north from Tesco. They like mixing other flavours in with the beer, doing ones with peach blossom (Golden Glory), elderflower (Golden Champion) and ginger (Blandford Fly).

    First Gold is stocked in Sainsburys and Fursty Ferret, although available over here, tends to be found in independent stockists (so you might be able to track that one down in Dublin).

  2. The Badgers tend to come and go from off licences here sporadically. Fursty Ferret is pretty common, though. I covered it here.