tonight I have mostly been had a beer. Instead of writing the descriptions down in time honoured style, then copying them onto the blog, I'm going to "free review" whilst at the keyboard...
Brewery : Lancaster, Lancashire
Name : Black
Strength : 4.6%
BCA/none BCA? : None BCA.
Purchased : Asda Handsworth Sheffield.
Pictured below is the beer with the bottle "artistically" out of focus (this was deliberate mind, I was a bit short of space)....
Colour : dark brown, not black, muddy with no other hues immediately visible, with a lacklustre, thin, grey white head which lasts less time than it took to take 7 photo's of the beer (so not very long I confess). When held up to the light half way down the drink it resembles flat Coke. Am already concerned by the brewers choice of a clear bottle...
Carbonation/Pouring : no sound on opening and pours flat, there are bubbles if you look carefully at the "head horizon" where the beer meets what little foam there is, but considering I opened this warm, you'd have to give it a good shake and a massive gulp to get any carbonation. That said, mini bubbles do fizz shortly after each mouthful. A delayed reaction sparkle.
Aroma : I am in the very last throes of a cold. So whilst I am satisfied that this does not impede my flavour receptors, and I have experienced some truly incredible smells of late, I am going to benevolently assume that the aroma is hidden by nasal bacteria.
Taste : Initially a strange sweet burst of malt, perhaps in three stages, biscuity, then sweet and then a mixture, receding in the mouth as the beer goes down to leave a dry slightly sharp bitterness. Even half way through the drink the more unco-operative bitter flavours seem to predominate, and eventually the malt and sweetness is reduced to a sharp kick at the beginning. See the pic below to get an idea of just how flat this beer pours, despite being kept in perfect conditions, and not being bottle conditioned, so susceptible to yeast malfunction.
Even as the beer warms, the maltiness remains subdued, but whilst you may expect that to propel the bitterness into the forefront of the flavour, its alas not a nice punchy bitterness. It is roasted, and that is exactly what you would expect in a dark beer, but also, now that I can identify roast malt as part of the balance, there's a weird aspirin and salt hint to the bitterness.
At the deathroes of the drink the beer begins to remind me of a can of Mitchells bitter drunk warm at the end of a party, as used to happen, even in Easterly Sheffield, in the early nineties. Am afraid I have failed spectacularly to get on with the roasted bitterness and the short lived harsh sweetness in the initial taste.
Head retention - well, for the last 3rd, none at all. The thin residue that subtly graced the surface at the beginning gamely hangs on for about 2 thirds but its so thin and so anchored to the very edge that its not really appreciably a head at all.
WBrating : 4.5.
Alas am not smitten with this dark stranger. It only scrapes this score for being more palatable than their dreadful malty Red that I tried once, but never again. I can't understand why there is no malt balance, and why the bitter tones are so dry and one dimensional, or what that wearying aftertaste is. It was the only one left on the shelf when I bought it - perhaps its time to go back to Hambleton Nightmare and Little Valley Hebden Wheat...
More news soon - am out with Dave Barra Harri Thurs and have abeer tasting at Davefromtshop's Friday so expect some facts, half remembered mumbles, pics and attempts at journalism over the weekend.