31 October 2008

Bewitched, badgered and bewildered

In Newry last weekend I was surprised to find that the only customer in Sainsbury's with a northern accent was me, just off the train from Dublin. I only had time for a quick raid on the small-but-decent decent beer selection which I'll be working my way through over the next few weeks.

Last year at Halloween I drank Wychwood's Pumpking, which Adeptus had picked up for me on a Sainsbury's raid of his own. Tonight I'm sitting down with a beer several bloggers had said was even better: Badger Pumpkin Ale by Hall & Woodhouse. It pours a surprisingly pale limpid orange, forming a loose head of big bubbles that quickly vanished. That on its own wasn't enough to put me in mind of Irn Bru, but the initial taste certainly did: big fizz and sweet artificial fruit were my first impressions. After letting it settle on the palate for a moment there are autumnal apple and cinnamon spices coming through, and even vaguely medicinal, herbal notes. "Vaguely" is the watchword, however: overall I found this beer quite thin and bland. Where Pumpking had a full-bodied strong ale at its heart, this doesn't really have much beyond the fruit, spice and fizz, and the novelty wears off far too quickly.

But I'm not letting it bother me. I'm off to carve pumpkins instead.

Samhain shona daoibh to all Beer Nut readers.

30 October 2008

Gnome place like home

My bottle of McChouffe had been sitting in the fridge for quite a long time. I don't really get to use my fridge much, or any other household appliances, which have either been mothballed since May or are still in their original wrapping. As the builders gradually clear out of the house, more things become usable, and yesterday evening the fridge door was unobstructed and inside, among all the trapped children and mysterious fungi, was this Ardennes Bruin.

From the large green bottle it pours a dark and quite opaque brown. Lots of gas in here: forming a thick head which dissipates quickly but leaves a strong, sharp fizzy texture on tasting. Beneath it it bears a strong resemblance to many other brown Belgian ales: the Trappist dubbels in particular. I get dark and slightly spicy fruit; sweet and estery rather than bitter, with a slight slow-burning yeasty sharpness behind it. I probably drank it too cold as I found the flavour a little bit underwhelming: I'd expect more from a dark ale of this provenance and strength. Bunging the lees in smoothed it out, but didn't turn it into a palate pounder. Still, I enjoyed it as a characterful winter's night beer. I've set up a stash with more of this sort to see me through the cold months, but they'll have to wait until I have more freedom in my own house before I start cracking them open.

27 October 2008

The legacy of Samuel Adams

Sarah was late for a dinner appointment. Before she fled the Bull & Castle Beerhall she bequeathed to me her half-finished Samuel Adams Double Bock. I mentioned in my last post the bad experiences I've had with a couple from this range, so I was very wary of the newcomer. Sticking my nose into this flat, dark brown affair set off all kinds of alarm bells, what with the intense tooth-rotting sugary aroma. On tasting, however, it's a bit mellower. Still sweeter than builders' tae, but with a pleasant sticky caramel foundation that lets it slip down without becoming too cloying.

I don't think I'll be drinking a lot of it, and at 8.8% ABV I really shouldn't anyway. Fortunately, before I got near the bottom of the glass, Mrs Beer Nut swapped it for the remains of her Clotworthy Dobbin. We make a great team, even if our special skill seems to be mopping up leftovers.

23 October 2008

Serious cojones

O the serendipity. One of the lads on ICB (hi