Indian Summer and Wojtek

Sainsbury's Great British Beer Hunt 2012

The only good thing about beer in a clear bottle, is that you can see the colour, which in the case of Elgoods Indian Summer, was a typical golden straw colour. Other than that, clear bottles are the devils work, so we just have to hope that the bottles in store aren’t light struck in any way. The off white head was decent, but didn’t last, dropping to a covering fairly quickly. The nose was chock full of Rhubarb and Custard penny chews crossed with Pear Drops, which I have to say I’m not a big fan of in this type of beer.

When I was writing the review of Tempest’s Brave New World IPA the other day, I also said it had an aroma of rhubarb and custard sweeties, so you’d be forgiven for thinking that I think they smell the same. They don’t though, in the case of the Tempest you could tell all that aroma was from the hops, in the case of this beer, you can’t. I don’t know if it’s from the yeast, oxidation, skunking, or actually from the hops used. I have my suspicions, but until I can either smell a wet dog, a bunch of geraniums or some modelling dope, I’ll be keeping them to myself.

In the mouth it felt full bodied, with a solid, if slightly sweet, malt backbone. It was quite well balanced, with the bitterness cutting in mid way and intertwining with the maltiness to leave a juicy, sweet and slightly bitter aftertaste. As I said previously, I’m not a big fan of beers that smell like Rhubarb and Custard sweeties, as I find they end up leaving a manky taste in the back of the mouth. It’s something that builds and builds with each mouthful and in some cases can leave the mouth feeling either like you’ve licked an ashtray, or burnt the roof of the mouth in some way.

While I didn’t quite get the burning sensation, the back of my mouth was left with a manky taste that was a cross between ashtray and cardboard, which wasn’t so good. I think that without the flaws this beer would have been pretty forgettable, it was one of those that you pour into a glass, have a couple of mouthfuls, then pick it up again only to find it almost gone, with no recollection of having drunk most of it.

A green bottle this time, so marginally better than the other entries in clear glass, but still liable to skunking. Beartown’s Wojtek poured a very similar colour to the Elgoods Indian Summer, although it didn’t appear to be quite as clear, it wasn’t hazy in any way, it just wasn’t crystal clear. The white coloured head was easily formed, although it didn’t last and dropped to a patchy covering fairly quickly. I struggled to pick anything out on the nose, even when taking in a lung full. It wasn’t that it didn’t smell of anything, it was just so faint and nondescript, that I couldn’t place it.

It initially felt quite heavy in the mouth, almost too full of body, but this became less noticeable after a while. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to make of the taste, it felt like it had been hopped as a lager, but over the top of a golden ale. There was quite a bit of upfront bitterness that carried right through the mouth and lingered long into the aftertaste, but it reminded me strongly of the bitterness you’d get in a Czech pilsner like Budvar. While there was malt in there, it always seemed to be just underneath the bitterness, struggling to break through and reveal itself. The aftertaste was all bitterness though, lingering for ages and leaving the mouth all juicy.

This beer perplexed me somewhat, as I really didn’t know what to make of it, was it trying to be an ale or a lager, it seemed confused. Having said that, I quite liked it, in fact, I think I’ll have to buy some more, just to see if I can figure out what’s going on.

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