Are You Tasting the Pith? - 11th July 04
Something of an oddity this week - two beers from a brewery that doesn't exist. Inspection of the labels of both of these beers reveal little about the brewery itself. Number one in what will undoubtedly become A Very Long List Indeed of Things That Bug Me is contract brewing. Strangford Lough is located in County Down, Northern Ireland. However, these fine beers are labelled as being "Brewed in the EU for The Strangford Lough Brewing Company". Further inspection of the labels shows the beer to be a "Product of St. Patricks Country, Ireland". How odd. I can only assume that they are forced to comply with some cross-border legislation and label these beers as being generically produced in another EU country.
Of course, none of this really matters, but as I am as avid a label reader as I am a beer quaffer, this profusion of nonsense made me stop and think. Will this affect my impression of the beer? Do I feel cheated by this instance of contract brewing?
Happily, the answer is a resounding no, as these are two very fine bottle-conditioned beers - real ale in a bottle, if you will. Barelegs Brew (4.5% abv) is an appealing gold colour, and has a zesty and slightly floral (elderflower?) whiff to it, making it mouthwatering before it has even hit the tongue. This initial impression follows through, and what we have here, m'lud, is a classic British Pale Golden Ale, in the Summer Lightning / Exmoor Gold mould, albeit with a slightly heavier malt note in the body.
This malt note is carried through into their Legbiter (4.8% abv), giving the aroma a slightly more austere feel, more of a grainy edge. In the mouth, Legbiter lacks the spritzy edge of the Barelegs, having instead a slightly heavier, malty, sappy flavour. It also has a noticeably heavier mouthfeel, wihich I describe (to looks of bafflement from others) as being slightly oily. That's not to imply the beer is greasy, it just has a slightly heavier texture, and semms to coat the tongue a little more.
The third beer this week is Butcombe Gold (4.7%), reviewed here for no other reason than it happened to be next to the other beers on the shelf in the shop. On pouring, it is a little darker than expected, and is somehow a little lacklustre - it doesn't seem to sparkle and shine like other beers. The aroma is reminiscent of that old favourite of mine Coniston Bluebird, but lacks a bit of the zesty pithiness on Coniston's finest. On the palate too, it is pleasnat enough, but lacks either the malt weight or the pithy hoppiness to make it truly distinctive.
BACK TO TOP