We start off today’s Sainsbury’s Great British Beer Hunt 2011 reviews, with the beer that I think has the best label of the lot. Ridgeway’s Ivanhoe was the first beer to grab my attention when I was perusing the shelves, due to its likeness to a scene from the Bayeux Tapestry. I was quite disappointed when I found out the the label to their Bad King John was just the same scene, but a different colour.
It poured a very slightly hazy light brown, with an off white head. The head was slow to form and dropped really quickly to a blotchy covering. Just like the Bad King John, this was bottle conditioned, unlike the Bad King John, this one actually had some sediment. Not that you could really tell when pouring it though, there was just the tiniest trail of sediment at the end. When I looked in the empty bottle, there was a bit of sediment stuck to the bottom of the bottle though.
The nose was quite fresh, with subtle marmalade notes and the merest hint of yeast.
It wasn’t as full bodied as I was expecting, but at the same time it wasn’t watery, just a bit thin. While it didn’t look like there was much carbonation in the glass, it felt quite carbonated in the mouth, at least initially, once it had been sitting for a while, it got a bit smoother. It mainly tasted of bitter orange marmalade, but it was all very subtle and gentle. There was a nice bitter prickle that squished all the marmalade towards the end of the swallow and the after taste was slightly carbonic and quite drying.
It wasn’t bad, but I felt it could have been so much better, maybe a bit of an unpolished gem that need as bit of work to make it shine.
I was a tad apprehensive about McMullen’s Stronghart as I’m not really a spiced Christmas beer fan. It poured a reddish deep brown, not quite a ruby colour. The tan coloured head formed relatively easily, but dropped back to thin blotchy covering. I got pretty much nothing on the nose initially, except for some green apple, after a while though, that disappeared and I started to get a bit of malty sweetness and some spices.
It was unsurprisingly full bodied, but not particularly malty or sweet and it didn’t feel like a 7% beer. The liquid Christmas pudding that I was expecting didn’t quite materialise, I was expecting it to be a bit quite a bit more full on with the spices. The after taste was lingering treacle and liquorice notes weaving around each other.
As I’ve already said, I don’t normally like spiced beers, so it was a pleasant surprise to find that I actually quite liked this one.