Free Beer Politics on the Radical Road

Ah free beer, nothing tastes quite like it. The last couple of months has seen a bit of a storm on the subject, with various blogs venting their frustrations at the actions of others. The topic also came up at the recent European Beer Bloggers Conference and it was quite entertaining to read all the hand wringing tweets about if it was OK to accept and blog about free beer and what you should do if you thought the beer was poor or bad, especially in light of the majority of the atendees having taken the MolsonCoors Scholarship.

I don’t go out looking for free beer, as I’ve always felt that it would compromise my reviewing of it. I’ve also tried to indicate those beers I’ve been sent with their own category, so it’s easy to identify those reviews and thus apply a free beer filter when reading them. Having said that, I’ve not given every free beer I’ve had a glowing review, but then you have to remember that this is my personal opinion, it’s not fact.

Beer is like art, we don’t have to agree with others on what beer is good and which isn’t, it’s perfectly fine to have your own opinion that is diametrically opposite to everyone else. We don’t all have to like pop art or neo-expressionism anymore than we all have to like Rauchbier or Greene King IPA. What we should all agree on though, is that as beer bloggers, we don’t try to dupe our audience with unethical reviews where we laud false praise on mediocre beers in the hope that we’ll get more free beer in return. After all, the truth will out…

I’ve been meaning to write about this stuff for a while and was finally nudged into doing so by this tweet from Stewart Brewing yesterday:

I was offered a free bottle of Radical Road a while back and jumped at the opportunity. You don’t tend to see Stewart Brewing beers down this way and all those that I’ve tried have been during trips back home to visit my parents. The box also had a couple of their other beers in it, Coconut Porter and Cauld Reekie, neither of which I’d tried before. So a massive thanks to Stewart Brewing for sending me these.

I think I drank the Coconut Porter while it was a bit on the cold side, as I didn’t get any coconut, it was silky smooth for sure though. In my defence the fridge was set to eight degrees, but a faulty controller had it much, much colder; in fact it bottomed out at minus fourteen a few days later, I’d removed all the beer by that point though. The Cauld Reekie was a glorious glass of interesting roasted flavours and one I’ll be hunting down next time I’m home.

But what of Radical Road, their new 6.4% Triple Hopped Pale Ale? It poured a slightly hazy amber colour, that cleared as it warmed up slightly. The loose white head didn’t last and dropped to a few thin patches fairly quickly. I was expecting a bit more on the nose, there were slight marmalade notes, but I was expecting a bit more of a bouquet. It was really quite full bodied and filled the mouth with sweet, slightly marmalade, malt flavours. The slight carbonation stopped the sweetness from getting sticky and that coupled with the wonderful bitterness really balanced the beer well. The bitterness were never too much, but enough to prickle the insides of my cheeks and leave a long lingering juicy bitter marmalade aftertaste. I really, really enjoy this, just my kind of beer.

It sort of reminded me a bit of Adnams Innovation, but with slightly more bitterness. I’d love to try the two side by side, so I hope that they don’t wait too long before brewing it again…

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