As you may know, I was recently involved in judging bottled beers for Sainsbury’s (Tasting Beer for Sainsbury’s). This enjoyable day included a substantial ‘Meet the Brewer’ element, and one of the breweries represented was Wold Top from Driffield in the Yorkshire Wolds. Their entry in the Great British Beer Hunt was Scarborough Fair IPA, which did win a place on Sainsbury’s shelves, though I did not get to taste it.
Inspired by this, I bought four of their bottled beers on a visit to Booth’s supermarket in Windermere. Booth’s is an excellent beer retailer, by the way, well worth checking out if you have one within striking distance. One odd thing I have noticed about Booth’s is that they seem to intercept beers intended for the export market (see Ridgeway’s Wicked Elves). Three of the four bottles I bought were marked ‘Imported into Italy by Cuzziol S.p.A.’
The labels on the Wold Top bottles are very eye-catching. One lady at the Meet the Brewer session said that they looked like the covers of books, and they do. They positively invite you in.
The first one I tried was Angler’s Reward, a 4.0% golden ale. The label reads ‘Perfect for enjoying Lazy Indulgent Afternoons’. The eccentric use of capitals is all theirs.This beer pours with a nice pale orange colour and with a thin head that dissipates very quickly. There is a pronounced fruitiness to the smell. The flavour is of strong, bitter fruit. There are hints of orange and floral notes dance around the edge of the flavour. It is refreshing and nice.
The second Wold Top bottle was Golden Summer, 4.4% and described as ‘A fruity amber beer’. In fact the colour was a pale orange, slightly paler than Angler’s Rest. I found there was very little to differentiate these two. Golden Summer also has a thin, short-lived head and has all the same taste notes as Angler’s Rest – mainly fruity with floral hints and a touch of orange. Hops are perhaps a little more forward in Golden Summer, but frankly, you could swap the beers half way down the glass and you wouldn’t notice any change.
The 4.5% Against the Grain was next. ‘Gluten Free’ the label announces with glee, ‘Naturally Wheat Free Real Ale’. This is the only one of the four beers that did not contain wheat.The alien ingredient in this one is maize. It’s pale yellow with a head that vanishes before you’ve finished pouring it. The smell is slightly hoppy and the taste dryish. It’s hoppy alright, but there’s a slightly strange taste that I couldn’t recognise, a bit chemical. Maybe it’s the maize. There is a slight caramel finish. I’m really sorry to say this, but the thing it reminded me most of was Kaliber.
Finally, I tried a bottle of Wold Gold. A blonde beer weighing in at 4.8%. For a moment, I thought I had a head for keeps on this one, but it was gone within a minute. It’s a pale to mid yellow in colour, and the smell is sweetish and slightly floral. The flavour is fairly strong; dryish and hoppy but with a slightly unpleasant taste after the swallow that reminded me of cheap lager.
All in all, I was not hugely impressed with my exploration of Wold Top beers. None of this beer is actually bad, but there’s nothing here that really stands out from the crowd. For my money, Angler’s Reward and Golden Summer were the better two ales, and I wouldn’t be put out if I found that one of these was the only beer on the bar, though I wouldn’t be able to tell which one it was, so similar are they. I’d be less happy if it was either of the other two.
Words and images are my copyright, please respect that. All you have to do is ask. Thank you.