a few weeks a go me and Davefromtshop had our biannual beer tasting - this time it was at Chez Boeuf, and comprised an odd mixture of aged beers, beers bought in pubs, beers shipped across Europe, beers from Supermarkets and beers form specialist beer shops. This time, to ensure a fair reviewing and reporting process, we recorded everything we said and slurred, about the beers, on video. What follows is the *potentially* choice excerpts form he untranscribable nonsense we uttered, along with salient points about which beers were best...
I described the first four beers, noting that Santorini Yellow Donkey was unfiltered and refreshing. Ilkely Dinner Ale was a hoppy and refreshing low gravity beer which was very very hoppy...Geeves Presidents Ale was very nice actually, pleasingly hoppy, but probably could have done with being a but stronger, and Shepherd Neame Mainbrace IPA was in effect, a bit poor. It didn't really have an aftertaste, and was not really an IPA, whatever an IPA is....
Dave reckoned the Santorini Red Donkey was very fruity and very satisfying. It followed on well form their Yellow Donkey but the IPA crowned the whole set (see later). Tatton Obscure was really interesting with lots of licorice flavours which provably shouldn't have been there but tasted all the better for it. Dave would have liked to try a fresher beer to compare. He also liked the Blue Monkey Marmoset, considering it a valuable addition to their range. Its low gravity emphasised the hop nature of the beer, and it was totally different to anything else they brew. Meanwhile
Shepherd Neame IPA (6%) was a great contrast to the Mainbrace, as there was nice hoppiness, good aroma, and it balances well. Lastly, we both thought Santorini Crazy Donkey was a very interesting beer in a nice way, with prickly hoppiness, and fruitiness to support it. It had good texture, and was really a good classic beer.
Nogne imperial Brown was reviewed by us both at some stage but "somebody" forgot to video almost all of our reviews - I thought it was very strong but smooth with quite intense flavours but Dave felt it didn't go anywhere, dropping away towards the end. Meanwhile Dave reviewed 60 Degrees North lager from the Hebrides a lager that "wasn't necessarily complex but is remarkably clean and does a good job of cleansing the palate but it does stop right dead there. It was a worthy beer however.
On next to the big hitter - Thornbridge and Dark Star Coalition Old Ale, a beer which was no doubt about £10.00 a bottle and which I had been preciously refusing to open for years on account of nobody else I knew owning one. Here are the "highlights" of our increasingly tangential musings on a much anticipated drink:
Beefy: its not that dark...
Dave: lots of carbonation which is always a good sign,
Beefy: ooh God it smells nice! (note, this is a professional beer sommelieres phrase).
Dave: ooh! That's not bad at all.
Beefy: orange as well, in a really really good way, that's good its ever so slightly ascorbic which is brilliant, because its actually quite sweet. There's definitely orange in there.
(I think this is why no-one writes blogs entirely from transcribed reviews. I mean, who is this guy?)
Dave: very floral, quite well balanced, for its strength you'd expect some sort of punch there. It is very mellow and I suppose that's what the brewer would want to achieve with an aged beer. Ooh with a bit of a candy follow through,.
Beefy: its a really accomplished mix of sort of orange and then there's a kind of candy sort of a flavour and also a little dry bitterness but thats not as strong as you would expect.....
Dave: its got good depth, its got a deal of fruit to it, I would have expected a bit more but nevertheless its a good beer,
Beefy: I think that you expect it to be dark for a start, and expecting more kind of dark malt and you think of Harveys old ale from the same county as Dark Star - its more like a Belgian to me
Dave: It probably epitomises the expectation versus delivery point. It does seem to have altered a little bit, there are notes there that weren't there before but nevertheless its not the full package.
Beefy : I like it but like you say its not what I was expecting it to be, its expected to be a smooth malty dark beer and its not, but its still good.
And finally, with increasingly ponderous assessments - the conclusions!
Dave: Its between Crazy Donkey and the Nogne Brown
Beefy: its a tie between Red Donkey and Crazy donkey and Marmoset.
Dave: Marmoset, on a blow for blow account because it delivers much more than you expect....
Beefy: Crazy Donkey has a lot to it, its incredibly impressive but does tail off to the end a little, the Red Donkey I could drink all night basically and Marmoset is just a victory of delivery over expectation; and expectation is the key.
Dave: tonight has been exceptionally good because there are no beers there that are bad but there are some that deliver more than the others and I think given the range that we've tried that is where we will get a winner and.......
Beefy: Marmoset could be the winner....?
Dave: it gets my vote!
Beefy: in which case I go for that; Marmoset beer of the day, donkeys red and silver and Nogne imperial brown and Coalition all brilliant but actually Marmoset is more ballsy, it does more than you expect it to do, it confounds your expectations and therefore, Marmoset is the winner.
For reference, prior to tasting the last two beers here are our top four beers.
1. Santorini Red Donkey
2. Blue MonkeyMarmoset
3. Ilkley Dinner ale
4. Santorini Crazy Donkey
1. Santorini Crazy Donkey
Equal 2nd: Shepherd Neame IPA/Blue Monkey Marmoset
Equal 3rd: Red donkey/Tatton Obscure
4. Santorini Yellow Donkey
I'm not sure whet this tells us, apart from suggesting that the limbic brain which is possibly more prevalent in simian and ape thought processes (I'm making this up by the way but it sound convincing...) helps us to identify beers named after monkeys as the best...?
Or, alternatively, it might not....