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Four Bottled Beers from Wold Top

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.

Four Bottled Beers from Wold Top

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.

Wold Top Angler’s Reward

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.

Wold Top Golden Summer

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.

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Posted by on 31 July, 2012 in Bottled Beer

 

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Sainsbury’s Great British Beer Hunt – the Winners

A recent blog (here) describes how I had the pleasure of taking part in the judging of the Sainsbury’s Great British Beer Competition, the results of which would determine which beers were to be stocked by Sainsbury’s over the coming year.

The winners have now been announced. As I took part in the North of England Beer Hunt, and I can comment on the results, I’ll show those first.

North of England Beer Hunt Winners

Bateman’s Mocha – no surprise there, I absolutely loved this beer.

JW Lees Manchester Star Ale – big surprise here, I really didn’t like this one. Strong at 7.3%, I found it thick and overly sweet.

Wold Top Scarborough Fair IPA – I didn’t get to taste this one so I can’t comment.

Beartown Wojtek – I didn’t judge this one, but did get a taste of it afterwards in the ‘Meet the Brewer’ room. I only had a small taste, but it was very good. A worthy winner.

The results from the rest of the country were as follows:

Midlands Beer Hunt Winners

Castle Rock Screech Owl

Elgood Indian Summer

Blue Monkey 99 Red Baboons

Ridgeway Ivanhoe

Scotland Beer Hunt Winners

Traditional Scottish Ales Double Espresso Premio Caffe Birra

Williams Bros. Prodigal Sun

Cairngorm White Lady

Harviestoun Wild Hop Gold

South West Beer Hunt Winners

Wadworth Horizon

Yeovil Posh IPA

Cotleigh Snowy

Brains Willy Nilly

South East Beer Hunt Winners

Wolf Atom Splitter

Wolf Poppy Ale

Ridgeway Bad Elf – reviewed here

Nethergate Lemon Head

Congratulations to all the winners. All these beers will be available in Sainsbury’s stores from 12th September. I for one will be trying to get a bottle of each one!

Words are my copyright, please respect that. All you have to do is ask. Thank you.

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Posted by on 24 June, 2012 in Bottled Beer

 

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Tasting Beer for Sainsbury’s

Every year, Sainsbury’s invite customers to have a say in what beers the supermarket will be selling the following year. They call it the Great British Beer Hunt. This year I was fortunate enough to be one of those beer testers. The event took place in the Salford City Reds Rugby Stadium in Eccles, Manchester.

I arrived on time at 2pm and after a short introduction, we were given our scoring cards and asked to start. There were 23 bottled beers on offer, of which we had to choose eight, and of those eight, vote for four. In no particular order, I chose Two Roses First Edition, Weetwood Eastgate, Cropton Yorkshire Moors, Little Valley Stoodley Stout, Cropton Blackout, Little Valley Tods Blonde, Bateman’s Mocha and Cropton Madman’s Slaughter.

The bottles line up

I took my tray to the bar where the chosen beers were served into small plastic beakers. I also sampled different beers from my mate’s tray.

Eight beers for judging

When it came to voting, the eight that I picked, two immediately presented themselves as winners, but then I was left with the decision of which two out of three very good beers I was going to vote for. In the end, my votes went to the following four beers:

Two Roses First Edition, a 4% golden ale with a lovely pale yellow colour. The smell was bright and hoppy, and the taste was wonderfully fruity and hoppy with plenty of grapefruit pith. This beer just blew me away, I really hope it gets selected, as it would be perfect for a summer’s afternoon. A truly wonderful beer.

Little Valley Stoodley Stout. I recently had this beer on tap at the Port Street Beer House in Manchester – see here. It’s a 4.8% stout, just about black in colour with a fine brown head. The taste is rich, sweet, malty and dark with some smoke and a touch of dryness. The mouthfeel is distinctly creamy. A fabulously complex taste.

Cropton Blackout. A 5.0% porter. I had this from the cask at last year’s York Beer Festival. My review of it is here. The bottle didn’t disappoint. The smell is inviting – sweet, toffee notes promising something really good. The taste includes toffee and chocolate hints with a smooth, dryish finish. Beautiful.

Bateman’s Mocha. With a name like ‘Mocha’, there’s a certain expectation of what it’s going to taste like. And yes, it does. It’s a very dark brown in colour, 6% ABV. The smell is a subtle mix of chocolate and smoke, with the chocolate being dominant. The taste is very smooth and creamy with chocolate and dark coffee notes. It’s a stunningly good beer.

The one I had difficulty with and only dropped reluctantly, was Weetwood Eastgate, a beer I haven’t seen in bottles before (one of the stipulations for entry into the Sainsbury’s Great British Beer Hunt was that the beer should be new, or new to bottles). I’ve had it on draught, and the draught version is superb. Slightly deceptively, the beer looks like a fairly ordinary bitter, amber in colour, but the taste is utterly gorgeous – smooth, creamy, fruity, sweet and beautifully rounded. My difficulty is that the bottled version is not quite as good. It’s still very good, but perhaps lacking a little something that the cask version has.

Having cast our votes, we walked along a corridor into another large room, where ten brewers had stands and were offering tastes of their beer and were either giving bottles away free or selling them at a much reduced price. Brewers present were from Two Roses, Weetwood, Cropton, Little Valley, Bateman’s, Thwaites, Lees, Stringer’s, Beartown and Holts.

Beartown stand in the ‘Meet the Brewer’ room

I spent longer in that room than I did in the tasting, and drank considerably more beer!The brewers were all very approachable and interesting, and I learned a lot from chatting with them.

Two Roses stand in the ‘Meet the Brewer’ room

In all this was a fantastic free way to spend an afternoon. I’ll be looking out for next year’s event, and booking my ticket early.

Words and images are my copyright, please respect that. All you have to do is ask. Thank you.

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Posted by on 18 May, 2012 in Bottled Beer

 

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