My beer cellar is still full of bottles that I bought optimistically before Christmas, imagining that the festive period would be far more fun than it actually was. So I’m now in a drinking-up phase. Here are four of them :-
Shepherd Neame Tins’ Ale certainly wins the prize for the most random use of an apostrophe. Shepherd Neame regularly produce seasonals (Spooks and Warlock’s Broth for Hallowe’en, Up and Under Ale for the rugby last year) . I’m a bit ambivalent about them. Spooks was good, but Warlock’s Broth and Up and Under failed to impress. To be honest, I wasn’t really holding my breath for the 4.0% Tins’ Ale, but it was by no means as ordinary as I had feared it might be. It pours reddish-orange with a thinnish head of medium-sized bubbles. The smell had hops, but was also slightly plasticky. When I was a little lad, I had an Action Man, and the smell of this beer brought the smell of that old toy to mind – plastic, you see. The taste is hoppy and bitter, but only gently so. There is a pleasant malty undertaste. The taste was nice on the burp. Not an outstanding ale, but a pleasant enough experience.
Next up was Wold Top Shepherd’s Watch, coming in at a respectable 6.0%, this ale is described on the bottle as a ‘Natural Winter Warmer’. It’s a nice dark red colour with a nice lightly brown head. The taste is dark, too. Strongly malty with a hop bitterness that was really quite heavy. The finish is long-lasting and bitter.
I finished off with a couple of bottles from Ridgeway. Bought at the same time as the Wicked Elves, these were clearly marked up for export to the US.
The inelegantly named Santa’s Butt is a 5.0% porter (described as a ‘Winter porter’, whatever that is). The blurb on the label makes light of the fact that a ‘butt’ in English is a large barrel whilst in American English it apparently means ‘bottom’. What larks! The beer is a very dark red with a lovely brown head of tightly compressed bubbles. It is smooth and slightly creamy. The flavour is of roasted dark malt and whilst it isn’t sweet, it just stays shy of being bitter. I would have preferred a little more bitterness here, and overall, I found it slightly low on flavour.
My final Ridgeway leftover was Warm Welcome, described on the bottle as a ‘Nut Browned Ale’. Again, I’m not quite sure what that means. It’s a reddy-brown in colour with a good head. The flavour is strong – perhaps not surprising as this beer has a 6% ABV. It predominantly tastes nutty, but sharp-edged, somehow. There is also plenty of hops in here and hints of autumn berries. And yes, it does actually have the taste of a traditional brown ale. Nuts and brown. Got it.
Beer drunk. Christmas over.
Words and images are my copyright, please respect that. All you have to do is ask. Thank you.