Are You Tasting the Pith? - 19th September 04
A new beer to me, although I remember reading about it in the trade press some time ago. Marstons have taken it upon themselves to create a logistical nightmare for themselves and their customers with a beer that has a shelf life of 28 days. The idea is, I would guess, that fresher beer tastes better, although this has always been something that I dislike about A-B Budweiser, with its snappy 'born on' date stamped on the bottle. Shouldn't bottled beer be allowed to settle and mature?
My conclusive answer to this question is "I haven't got a clue". While Thomas Hardy Ale undoubtedly matures with age (and I hope the new vintage does well, because I have a whole case in the cellar), I've never kept beer for an extended period. While many (perhaps most) beers are probably at their best as young as possible, the ones that I occasionally buy past their sell-by date seem fine. The only beer I've ever drunk that was noticeably "off" was some well out of date Schneider Weisse, and that was disgusting, although it's far from my favourite even when in good condition.
Anyway, back to the matter in hand. Red Brick Brewery Fresh is excellent, but certainly nothing like draught ale - it's far too gassy for that. However, it does have an wonderful fresh zesty hop aroma, with light spice notes (pepper, mace), and a palate-tingling dollop of hops, leading to a pleasing dry finish, with hints of the toffeeish, Ovaltiney malt just poking through in the finish. The 35.5cl bottling is an odd choice, or perhaps that's just because I got to the bottom of the bottle all too soon. Recommended.
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