last night me and Davefromtshop did our inaugural 2012 beer tasting in my salubrious abode. Here are the details of that epic festival of the taste buds and the salient points rescued from the nonsense we came out with in rating said drinks.
The line up.
Its worth pointing out that optimism had decreed that a much lengthier roll call of beers were to be supped. We only had about 4 pints on our crawl first but I have to concede that really a beer tasting should be done an empty bloodstream (not literally of course).
In light of that here is the original line up, including the ones we didn't get round to - any beers not marked BCA are assumed to be not bottle conditioned beers :
1. Dark Mild, Dunham Massey Brewery 4.0% BCA
2. Evensong, Durham Brewery 5.0% BCA
3. Stout, Dunham Massey Brewery 4.2% BCA
4. Ape Ale, Blue Monkey Brewery 5.5% (BCA? need to find the bottle again!)
5. Yeti, Tatton Brewery 4.5%
6. 300 Ale, Chiltern Brewery 5.0% BCA
7. Pils, Flensburger Brauerei 4.8%
8. Kahuna NZ IPA, Summer Wine Brewery, 6.0%
9. Traditional Porter, Harviestoun 6.0% NOT TRIED
10. Torpedo, Sierra Nevada Brewery 7.2% NOT TRIED
11. Vintage Ale, (2004) Fullers Brewery 8.5% BCA
12. Temptation, (2007) Durham Brewery 10.0% NOT TRIED (much to do with the previous beer's magnificence)
As you can see there was a hint of optimism in my choice of taste overloads, and we finally gave up after the Fullers around 01.30 AM, having truly run out of steam.
This time we didn't worry ourselves about scoring, more entering into a detailed review of each beer and an overall assessment. Alas, the passage of time and accumulation of alcohol meant I can't honestly say that we picked a winner! The Fullers Vintage was seven years of wonderful perfection, however, interestingly, it was slightly flawed. Not only did it take about 45 (albeit heavenly) minutes to drink, but somehow in the maturation process, almost all trace of hops had disappeared.
By way of comparison, last year we had tried a bottle that was less than 2 years old and it was perhaps the finest bottled beer I ever tasted. However, picking the best time to open one is complicated further by the fact that the hops and malts and recipe change every year. So, given the above, and mindful of the authority afforded to me by this being my blog, I would have to say that after careful consideration the winner was the Chiltern Brewery 300's Old Ale.
We attended a tasting (by accident, just by turning up at their shop) in September 2011 and the insights into the beers and the knowledgeable staff showed what a slick operation Chiltern Brewery are. For more details see Chiltern Brewery bottled beers. I'd hate you to think that this swayed my decision, so I will attempt to validate my choice by explaining that the 300's wins because it was 5.0% and yet tasted a little bit like a beer double that, or one that had been aged at length. I think the fact that it punched so high above its weight, and had all the constituent ingredients of a strong but balanced English old ale means it outshone the Fullers. Although if there had been a "wow factor" to judge, Fullers would have easily walked away with first prize.
Other highlights were the Dunham Porter, The Ape Ale and the Durham Evensong. Interestingly though, there was no top accolade for the much anticipated Summer Wine Brewery Kahuna NZ IPA. I had expected to be bitten by ferocious hops and I wasn't disappointed, but, having tried and loved their draught offerings on numerous occasions now, what did disappoint me was the over reliance on the massive hop flavour, with seemingly not much else in the mix.
Both me and Dave were fairly certain that the hop in question was nelson sauvin, although it could have been green bullet as well. Either way there seemed a lack of balancing flavours. Having decided on the hop's identity we couldn't shake ourselves from the thought that this was a nelson sauvin attack more than it was a celebration. Yes, it was worthy of a buzz brewing descriptiopn like unapologetic, but that could be applied to BrewDog Hardcore IPA (in fact, I worry it may actually already be so) for example, a classic of its style. Kahuna, I concede, was more a bold experiment that didn't quite work. Which was a shame.
Overall, this was one of a couple of beers that fell short of expectations (those old chestnuts!) - perhaps a few less dry hops and some more balancing malt would have made this IPA an incredible beer. The only other disappointment was the Tatton Yeti, mainly because it did not live up to the promise of the blurb on the label (a fireside copper ale needs a bigger flavour and more lasting finish if its to work) and, against the quality of the Tatton Ale I tried the night before. Having said that, even though I can admit to a certain, ahem "tiredness" starting to befall us, there honestly wan't a bad beer.
Finally, for a snippet of the mumbling chaos of beer reviewing at gone midnight, I was going to have attached a short video, however the only one short enough to upload in under 25 minutes is very late on when, erm, clarity of thought and clear pronunciation of words has become more challenging. Instead I have posted the above picture of a glass of beer. This will have to do am afraid! You can rest assured however, in the absence of video evidence, that a robust assessment of each beer was carried out, to our very great enjoyment!
Happy beer tasting,