Twitter, the second beer from the Brown Paper Bag Project landed last week. Oxman is a 5.8% ABV brown ale and was launched in parallel with a re-brewed, re-designed Dr Rudi, the second batch of which, I think, was brewed at Proef in Belgium.
Actually, they're not great on the whole provenance thing, the Baggers. Not only does Oxman not say where it comes from (Dancing Duck in Derbyshire, I'm told), it doesn't even say where the Project itself is based, which puts it in breach of Irish labelling laws. And while I'm throwing the book at them, the promised best before date wasn't on the shoulder of my bottle either, not that that one matters to me particularly.
It's definitely bottle-conditioned, as a layer of sediment shows clearly at the base of the bottle. That's something that tends to niggle me with medium-strength beers in 33cl bottles but this one is strong enough and dark enough for it not to be a problem. A mahogany coloured body is topped by a thin ivory head from which a wholesome oatmeal and raisin aroma rises. The texture is a beautiful sheer silk, one that bottle conditioned beers so rarely have, and the lead flavours are milk chocolate finishing on a crisp green bitterness fading to slightly metallic tangy notes. What separates it from your run of the mill brown ale is that extra ABV, spreading warmth and good vibes on the palate and down the hatch. There is a school of thought which says this sort of beer is only suited to winter but you won't find me at assembly there.
It's not a knock-you-out-of-your-chair-with-amazement beer. I've yet to find a brown ale that is. But it is a very well-balanced yet assertive, moreish ale. There's a limited supply on cask at WJ Kavanagh's and I strongly recommend taking the opportunity of getting stuck in to a proper pint or two if you can.
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