Abbot Ale – 5% English Ale

13 12 2010

Abbot Ale is Greene King’s flagship beer and is also one of the first real ales that I ever had the pleasure of trying back in the day.

As such it is probably a little surprising that it has taken me quite so long to work my way round to writing a review on this particular beer.

I guess the biggest reason is that of choice; there are so many other beers out there and I am so keen to try them all (ambitious I know!) that if I am out in the pub I will drink pretty much anything before I consider heading for an Abbot, likewise if I am in an off-license there are literally hundreds of bottles that would come home with me first.

First things first let me state that this is a cask pint from the Hamilton Hall at Liverpool Street Station. It is NOT – note the capital letters –  from one of these cans with a widget in. I don’t really like most ales in a can and Abbot is no exception.

When poured properly, not like my first pint that was slopped into the glass whilst the barmaid was chatting to her friend, you should see a clear golden/amber pint with a decent white head of about 2 fingers width which slowly fades away to a thin layer which stays throughout.

You can quite clearly make out the smell of malts, some fruity sweetness and a touch of hops but everything is fairly muted with no one aroma standing out from the crowd.

The first flavour that really hits you is a sweet toasted maltiness but before that can start to seem a bit too much you get the hops kicking in, there are some floral notes and a slight Earthiness – some have even said it seems a bit skunky on occasion. After the hops have started to recede a little you get the bitterness of the beer coming through along with a slight hint of citrus/orange  as well.

The flavours in Abbot ale are all quite crisp, strong and well-defined the only slight issue that I have is that everything is a little bit mish-mash and all over the shop, for example there is a fairly distinct cinder toffee note that you get right towards the end of the beer and because there is nothing around to balance it or cut through it you are left with a slightly burnt after taste. Not unpleasant by any standards but possibly a little disconcerting to some.

I have an old friend who always accuses me of being more complementary of Abbot Ale than I should be as a result of it being one of my first real ales. He might have a point but then again sod him,  there is something to be said for flavours or smells that take us back to a certain time or place and if Abbot Ale does that for me then so be it!

When all is said and done I still  have my original problem with Abbot; it is a good beer, there is nothing about it that is unpleasant or even less than pleasing but it isn’t a great beer – I wouldn’t ask for a pint to be bought to me on my death-bed.

If you are looking for a good example of an English Ale than Abbot will see you just fine but there are better beers to be had.

4.0/5

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The Nutshell – Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk

11 11 2010

According to the Guinness Book of Records the Nutshell in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk is the smallest pub in the UK.

 Whether this is the case or not is up for dispute as at least 2 other pubs that I am aware of make the same claim, either way it is bloody small, about 15ft x 7ft according to the barman.

You can fit about 15 people in The Nutshell in moderate comfort but the record stands at a massive 102 back in 1984, having spent many evenings in the Nutshell all I can say is I hope they all knew each other well, if they didn’t prior to going in they did when they came out!

There is an awful lot to look at in the Nutshell, especially considering it is such a small pub, there is a stags head on one wall and there used to be a stuffed black cat as well, apparently it was found during renovations bricked up behind an old chimney!

Unsurprisingly as it is only 5 minutes down the road Greene King is well represnted in the Nutshell with their I.P.A and Abbott Ale always in residence.

The Nutshell is always popular with tourists and during the summer months can be a bit busy regardless of when you pop in, the rest of the time it is just a regular local pub, all be it in miniature.

Well worth a visit if you happen to be in the area.








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