Bateman’s XXXB

3 01 2011

Batemans is an independent brewery from Wainfleet in Lincolnshire; the Bateman family have been operating the brewery on a pretty much continual basis since  1874 and along the way have turned out some cracking beers and picked up rather a lot of awards – the most recent of these being “Best Regional Brewer” at the Publican Awards 2010.

XXXB is their 4.8% premium bitter and has previously been voted as being one of the top 50 beers in the world.

I have sampled XXXB on a number of occasions over the past few years, both on tap and most recently bottled as part of a deal from our local off licence – all Batemans beers €2.00 a bottle, a real bargain by Irish standards!

XXXB pours to a nice clear coppery finish with a mid-sized head that lasted reasonably well with a fair amount of lacing.

The initial aroma that I picked up was that of a slightly bitter  black tea with some citrus and a bit of sweetness coming in afterwards  – possibly toffee.

On drinking this beer the first thing I noticed was that there is very little sweetness to it, the citrus comes through quite clearly along with a slight nuttiness and some biscuity richness from the malts.

There is a lot of bitterness present through out along with the slight taste of black tea, this with the slight element of citrus makes for a very refreshing pint although some might find it a touch sour towards the finish.

The body is reasonably light but the carbonation is spot on resulting in a very pleasant mouthfeel overall.

In my opinion XXXB is better than average but there is certainly room for improvement.

4/5

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Fuller’s London Porter 5.4%

5 12 2010

Fairly recently I wrote a review on Fuller’s London Pride (here) today I turn my attention to another beer from the London based brewery; Fuller’s London Porter.

I’m not going to prattle on at length about the history and origins of porter – trust me I can if you want 😉 but it is great to see a London brewery still leads the way in producing what I and many others deem to be the gold standard of porters.

Ok so where to begin, well it pours very dark brown, not black close enough, there is a slight ruby sheen to a pint if held up directly to the light. The head is egg-shell white and settles out at around 2 fingers, the head fades away a fair bit but leaves a load of lacing on the glass.

In terms of aroma you can quite clearly make out roasted malt, some bitter coffee notes and a hint of toffee or caramel, there is also a slight nuttiness and a hint of hops.

Taste is where Fuller’s have really won through on this one; everything you can pick up in the aroma of the porter is present and more.  The deep roasted malts come to the fore along with the coffee note and that toffee/caramel sweetness.

The chocolate from the roasted malt comes through in the after taste but in a subtle way, it is very much a supporting character in this porter as is the slightly nutty taste. There is a hint of fruitiness that you just about pick up in the background as well, if I had to try and pin it down I would go with raisins or sultanas with a tiny hit of vanilla creeping in as well.

All in all you come away with a rich complex taste that for me ticks all the right boxes, it is rich and malty, slightly sweet and fruity with an underlying bitterness that is refreshing and cuts through the richness which otherwise might be a tad cloying.

In terms of mouthfeel there is only really one word to describe this porter: smooth. In face we are going beyond smooth we are talking baby’s bottoms or the finest velvet gliding across your tongue  – ok well maybe not baby’s bottoms but you get the picture.

A lot of people far more worthy than I have waxed lyrical about Fuller’s London Porter and have even gone so far as to vote it the World’s best porter on several occasions. I don’t often like to follow crowds or ride along with popular opinion but on this occasion I can’t really disagree with any degree of conviction.

There might be better porters out there but if there are I certainly haven’t found them.

5/5





Hobgoblin Ruby Beer

12 07 2010

I realised yesterday evening that  I have been rather tardy in posting any new beer reviews lately so I decided that it was time to start clearing out the backlog and what better way to do it than with a beer that always keeps me coming back for more.

Hobgoblin from the Wychwood Brewery

I have been a fan of Hobgoblin since I first encountered it about 12 years ago and it’s  not just because I like the oft fantasy inspired artwork that Wychwood use on their labeling.

Because Wychwood are the UK’s largest brewer of real ale and Hobgoblin is its most popular beer you can find it all over the shop and I have known a few people turn  their noses up at it as being a “gateway beer” or “too mainstream” well yeah it IS a gateway beer for many people and you know what I say to that – GOOD…

If more people were drinking something like Hobgoblin maybe the brewing industry in the UK wouldn’t be in the state it is and there would be more decent beer around as opposed to just superchilled flavourless rubbish.

Well rant over.

Hobgoblin is indeed widely available across the UK and overseas, most people will have seen it in it’s bottled form at some point or another gracing the shelves of their local supermarket or offy, it is also available in a can and can be purchased on tap in an awful lot of good pubs across the country.

The bottle bears the Wychwood logo of a Witch riding a broomstick and the Hobgoblin label shows it’s namesake wielding a rather nasty looking axe against a dark blue background, all in all fairly unmistakable!

The beer itself is 5.2% a.b.v in it’s bottled form and 4.5% a.b.v on cask (I do remember years gone by when cask hobgoblin was tipping the scales at 5.6% but ce la vie) and regardless of which you get your hands on is a dark ruby red beer which is clear when poured and has a nice compact creamy head to it.

The aroma that you get from a freshly poured pint of hobgoblin is one of almost chocolate like toffee with a nice background hint of citrus, it’s not overwhelming but it’s very definitely there.

Hobgoblin is a wonderfully smooth beer to drink and although it isn’t the most complex beer around it has a lovely full-bodied feel to it, not watery in the slightest. The predominant flavours are that of toffee coupled with a nice hit of roasted malts.

There is a refreshing fruity background that has just the right level of citrus to cut through the sweetness from the toffee and stops it from being cloying.The finish to the beer has a light yeasty taste to it  and you get a nice crisp hint of alcohol dryness on your tongue.

Because of its ease of drinking and the fact that its flavours are well balanced I find hobgoblin to be a great beer to accompany food as well as being a superb session beer.

Whether you are a seasoned beer drinker or someone who is just trying to find their feet in the world of real ale consumption hobgoblin will have something for you, the bottled beer is excellent but it is even better when you find it on tap.

A real English classic

4.7








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