I’ve been meaning to write this post for ages, I’ve just not been proactive enough in sitting down and getting it done. I started drinking my beer swap beers in May and didn’t finish till July, which is pretty rubbish, I had meant to drink them over the course of a single week, but there you go.
First up was Meantime London Stout, which was the only beer in the box that I’d not tried before. It poured a really deep brown with a tan head that dropped to a covering. It smelt full of roasted coffee with a hint of chocolate. Not being bottle conditioned, I found that the carbonation made for a bit of a rough mouth feel, which coupled with the slightly water body was a bit disappointing. Other than that, this beer is full of roasted coffee and chocolate with an after taste of lingering bitterness.
I’ll admit to have sunk a few pints of Fuller’s London Pride over the years. It seemed to turn into one of those beers like Marston’s Pedigree and Wadworth 6X that appeared to be in every pub I went in, so I sort of stopped drinking it. I can’t remember the last time I had a pint of it, let alone a bottle, so I was quite looking forward to trying it.
I poured a crystal clear copper with a loose white head that dissipated to a rim round the edge of the pint glass. It would appear to my nose at least, to be one of those beers that I can only describe as smelling fresh, which is a pretty useless description, it did have vague hints of caramel as well. I’d forgotten how good this beers was, perfectly balanced between the malty body and the fruity hops.
When Young’s originally sold this beer, it was bottle conditioned and I used to buy quite a bit of it. I don’t know what they’ve done to it, but I’ve always found the bottle conditioned version to be a bit meh. It’s not that it’s bad, it’s just not excellent either. Recently they’ve re-branded it as London Gold, due to Kew Gardens no longer wanting to be associated with an alcoholic beverage, or something.
It poured a golden colour with a good compact white head. The reek of grassy hops while it was being poured into the pint glass was marvellous. It smelt fresh and grassy with a hint of biscuity malt lingering around. It’s a light and fresh beer, with a good body, not too light, not too heavy. It tasted quite lemony in the middle, subtle though, with a lingering mildly bitter after taste.
Finally I get to the daddy of the selection. I’ve been collecting Fuller’s Vintage ales for a while now, I usually drink a few and stick another couple away in a dark corner where they are forgotten. It will be interesting to revisit them in the future and see how they’ve aged.
The 2009 Vintage Ale pours a crystal clear dark copper brown with loads of condition and a creamy head. I wasn’t sure what it smelt of, maybe there was a hint of bready yeast, maybe there wasn’t. My nose isn’t the best… As you’d expect from the ABV, it’s a full bodied beer, with a rich malty taste and some residual sweetness. There didn’t appear to be a lot of evidence of hops, but it was pretty pretty stunning none the less. There’s loads of rich fruity notes from the malt and a warming alcoholic after taste, it’s a very nice beer.