Sunday, 13 March 2011

Another Horsham bottle graces Beefy...


now don't panic, this is not intended as notice of daily bottle reviews, however, instead of rolling up at the computer armed with a few scrawled notes often from a week ago, I thought this may be a good chance to report on a beer I supped literally 20 minutes ago.

First of all, thanks to my brother Wee Keefy for bringing me some excellent ales form the saarf, namely Brighton, comprising the 3 Hepworth already tried plus another, and couple of BCA's from Weltons, also based in brewing hotspot Horsham.

This gives me a handy opportunity to add another little twist to the BCA debate. Because whilst its not as good as the Hepwroth Prospect, its also not as grim as the Old Bear Bruins mild - a horror that consistently, despite having been purchased by 3 different people within a few months and from different venues, was off. No, its not that either. Is a middle ground BCA anomaly.

Beer and Brewery : Sussex Pride, Weltons
ABV : 4.0%
BCA or none BCA ? : BCA

I have had this bottle, almost undisturbed, for 12 days before opening, stood up in a cool consistent temperature environment, and prior to opening, stood in the fridge and then at room temperature for 2 and 1.5 hours respectively. I feared the worst when, although detecting no initial explosion or sour aroma, i detected a lot of yeast, and carefully and slowly poured out a pint of minestrone.

Oh no I thought, I bad mouth a couple of BCA's and the beer guardians send magic yeast infantry on the wind to infect my beer. There is no reason why a beer treated with that much cautious dedicated care should pour like I have had it in a rucksack whilst exercising on a trampoline. I have moved it carefully, refrigerated it to reduce the carbonation which in turn helps the yeast stick to the bottom and not mingle too much with the rest of the beer, and have opened it like an antique artefact. I am disappointed with the stewing mass that stands before me.

However, and here's the clever bit - it tastes great. Yep, no point being dishonest, it tastes of lovely malt and citrus hops and if you choose to ignore the initial aroma it could be the finest beer you ever taste.

The malt taste is the real winner here - as the label proclaims, it has rich roasted malt flavours and hints of spiced rum, and they are right on both fronts. The printed advice on achieving a crystal clear glass of beer seems a little optimistic given the above but otherwise the info is brief but accurate.

Its a sort of malty citrus brew that tastes somehow warming - I know this likely does not make sense, but by way of explanation, a light hoppy or bitter beer not only benefits from being served a little cold, but also tastes cold and if light in alcohol, thin somehow. Conversely, the opposite applies to the darker maltier beers which, owing to a fuller flavour and mouthfeel and likely higher ABV, always somehow seem to taste "warm" even when served at the correct temperature. This is a psycho-analytical beer taste assessment which ultimately can herald rewards for no-one, but to simplify my response, this beer made me feel happy.

Not, I should caution, in a euphemistic way. Instead, in a satisfying moreish way which says "yes, I would like another of these".

So onto the appearance. It is not dark, despite the label claims. It undoubtedly also isn't supposed to have the cloudy mud like consistency I saw so its perhaps unfair to compare label advice with this beers appearance. The aroma, by the way, quickly mellows out to a lovely sherbet like malty one, and its uncannily similar to another beer - possibly one from the excellent Fox brewery in Heacham Norfolk - it must be the excellent malt they used.

So here is the conundrum. How do Weltons get the yeast to escape into the beer so easily, thus risking a horrific yeasty broth, yet still pull off a great beer ? The answer, frustratingly, is they just do. When Thornbbridge started bottling BCA Jailpur soon after launching it, it was, almost unfailingly, cloudy. This presented them with a problem, as purveyors of excellent products, they were presumably uneasy with the prospect of people screwing their faces up on observing their prize Jaipur ale in a glass. Despite this, it was always nice.

Then there is none BCA Brew Dog Punk IPA - a whole quarter's worth of 330ml bottles purchased by me were cloudy. Yet they always tasted spot on. And how many times have you bought a pint of delicious pale ale in a pub and got to the table to find a chill haze or unexplained cloudiness preparing you for a return trip, only to find it is brilliant, an experience I had in the Queens Head in Tirril with their beer brewed at the time, on the premises.

In conclusion then, BCA's eh, you gotta love um.....

I liked this beer a lot but wish it was clear. Perhaps my stronger Weltons offering will set the record straight.


Wee Beefy.

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