I’ve written before about how building up a beer in your mind can lead to it failing to meet expectations. So it was with some trepidation that I went to the East Anglian Beer Festival the other night, as they had the mythical Greene King 5X down on the beer list. This is a beer that I’ve long wanted to try, but since you can’t normally buy it for love nor money, to say I was excited would have been an understatement.
Think what you like about Greene King, any brewer that ages a 12% beer in a massive oak vat for two years so that it goes stale and funky, can’t be all bad. You’d be going mental for it if it was from [insert favourite progressive UK brewer here], or some rare hip US brewery. Just because it’s Greene King that’s doing it, shouldn’t matter. Just like the whole cask/keg/bottle/can container debate being a load of crap, it’s the beer inside that matters, it’s not really the brewer that matters (unless they’re pure evil), it’s the end product that matters. If the beer’s good, it shouldn’t matter how it got to your glass, you should just be thankful that it did.
As you can see from my expletive filled Untappd checkin, my expectations were met and them some.
Greene King really are a paradox, as they can obviously brew exceptional beer, but choose to fill their pub estate with, even at its best, mediocre brown bitter. Maybe it’s the vast volume of IPA that they shift, that enables them to invest the time and money in laying 5X down to sleep in a giant oak vat for two years, I don’t know. But I’m still having a hard time trying to get my head round how a company can produce something as good as 5X and as mediocre as IPA, I find it even more puzzling that they don’t sell it in nip bottles at a premium price; I for one would certainly buy it, especially if it was available in their pub estate.
It was truly a phenomenal beer and if you’re in the Bury St. Edmunds area, either today or tomorrow, then I suggest you get down to The Apex and give it a try. It’s not often I get that excited about trying a beer and it’s even less often when those expectations are met so comprehensively…
Others have managed to try 5X, you can read their mussing here: