Are You Tasting the Pith? - 14th October 2007
This beer is billed as being the first Fairtrade Organic premium bottled ale, an achievement that seems to be lessened a little by the number of qualifying adjectives attached to it. But let's not play silly semantic games, what's it like?
The 5% abv beer pours a medium dark coppery-brown colour, and has a big, plush aroma - chocolate-biscuity malt, a little coffee, perhaps even slightly medicinal or phenolic. It opens big and broad, with a noticeable soft sweetness mid-palate, brought about by use of Freetrade Demerera suger - an unusual addition, although one that rounds out the mouthfeel nicely. The finish is long, medium-rich, and has a bright hoppy finish. Very good, and fairly typical of the high quality that the Freeminer brewery (for it is they) seem to be consistenly achieving at the moment. Very good.
Tui East India Pale Ale (4%) is a bit of a throwback to a bygone age. Sure, a beer should stand on it's own merits, and at one point, I'm sure this was an intersting, quirky beer that people used to drive out of their wway to track down. But the world has moved on, and so at a basic level, it seems odd to describe this beer as an East India Pale ale, given it's low hop presence. However, it is quite complex; toffee and allspice, slightly coffeeish mid-palate, with an autumnal slightly over-ripe apple and pear quality. This beer was obviously once great; now it's just OK.
Étoile du Nord translates as "north star". The north star is a star that stands on it's own, shining bright to guide the lost and the weary. Étoile du Nord is a slavishly over-hopped, super-CO2-saturated, frothy, seething mess of a beer. I don't care if you think it's the best beer in the world EVER! It went down the sink. Well, I poured it into the sink, and it filled the sink with spicy, bitter froth, and then gradually seeped away. Even the reviews on other websites by people who profess to like it say things like "thin and biting", and "it wore on me by the end". BLEH!
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