10 November 2007

Putting the "meh" into Meles Meles

A recent haul of ales from across the border included a "sett" of Badger ales from Hall & Woodhouse in Dorset. This variety four-pack includes Tanglefoot, which I covered for the purposes of the brew zoo -- it's nice as far as it goes, but not a classic by any means. Tonight it's the turn of three more badgers.

I'm starting with First Gold, a double medallist in the ale category at the Brewing Industry International Awards in 2005. It's a beautiful red colour with a lasting creamy head. On the first sip there's a delicious caramelised sugar piquancy, but this unfortunately doesn't last long. The hops, which are intended to be the defining characteristic of the beer, show up next but in too few numbers. The bitterness is enough to kill the malt notes, but insufficient to make the beer genuinely interesting. Impressive for just 4% ABV, but that's about all I can say.

The opposite is true of Golden Champion: it's a full 5%, but tastes much lighter. That's not to say it isn't complex, however. It greets the nose with a gentle lavender perfume and follows it with a perfumey flavour, tempered with honey, which is striking and distinctive but not at all cloying. I'm not the greatest fan of England's golden ales, but this is how they ought to be done.

And so expectations were high on approach to Badger number 3: Golden Glory. I didn't read the label first (I never do) but I didn't need to have it in writing that this is made with peaches (peach blossom, actually), because there are peaches on the nose and peaches aplenty in the foretaste. Alas, like the First Gold, the immediate sweetness is rudely sat upon by a sharp and rather harsh bitterness that contributes little else to the flavour.

I'd come back to the Golden Champion on a summer's day, but the rest: meh.


  1. Anonymous10:21 pm

    Thank od you didn't try the abomination that is "Blandford Fly" coriander and ginger are for curries and not beer

  2. Bailey8:49 am

    I used to like Badger's beers, but I really struggle with them these days. They always seem to be a bit musty or stale. Perhaps they would benefit from bottle-conditioning? And, yeah, instead of putting (fake tasting) weird flavourings (including nettles)in everything, I'd rather they just made a decent stout.

    Still haven't been able to check out the Sam Smith's stout for you. Soon.

  3. I'm really rather in favour of weird flavourings in beer, but when they don't work they don't work. I've had some good ginger beers in my time.

    One of the frequent topics of conversation among beer geeks of my acquaintance is how weird English brewers are. On the one hand you've got all the care that has to go into cask ale, and then the same brewer will bung their beers, filtered and pasteurised, into clear glass skunks-ahoy bottles. So yes: bottle conditioning, more of it please. You nutters.

  4. I've always though Golden Glory was vile - the new H&W Poacher's Choice, however, with damsons and liquorice, works very well, an excellent, complex combination of tart and sweet.

    Coriander in the right hands can work very well, John - Hoegaarden and St Austell Clouded Yellow, to name two.

    And yes, clear glass bottles are a triumph of marketing over good sense. Bottle-conditioning is not necessarily the answer - I've tried a couple of the new Marks & Spencer BC rang so far, and been very unimpressed ...

  5. I like the cask Badger ales, but I've yet to convinced by their bottled efforts.

  6. What does "meh" mean? I see it on the internet from time to time but have never encoutered it elsewhere. Is it "geekspeak" for something?

  7. I don't think it's especially geeky. It's an expression of indifference: the English equivalent of the French word "bof".