Great British Beer Hunt: Horizon and Poppy Ale

Sainsbury's Great British Beer Hunt 2012

Wadworth’s Horizon Golden Ale, is another entrant to the competition in a clear bottle, so again, while it shows off the colour beautifully, it can lead to light struck beer, unless they’ve used stable hop extract. The colour was a definite light golden hue, quite pale and bordering on the colour of slightly dehydrated wee. While the head was easily formed, it disappeared pretty sharpish, leaving only a faint ring around the edge of the glass.

My first though as I poured it, was the similarity in aroma to the Elgoods Indian Summer. It had the same Rhubarb and Custard crossed with Pear Drops estery thing streaming out of the glass. I’m not sure the nose was quite as powerful as the Indian Summer, it appeared fresher and the penny chew notes were fainter and more subdued. There was hint of something else around the edges, but it was too fleeting and I couldn’t put my finger on it.

In the mouth things weren’t so great, it felt like it had been slightly over carbonated, so that the liquid was just turning to bubbles on the tongue as you rolled it around the mouth. It had a good body about it, neither too thin nor too thick, but there wasn’t a lot of malt flavour to support the hops and it all felt a bit unbalanced. The penny chew flavours were evident pretty early on in the taste, disappearing under a pleasant enough bitter mouth prickle. The after taste wasn’t so great, all the flavours seemed to drop out after the mouth prickle and while the mouth was left feeling quite juicy, there was also a bit of a manky taste left behind.

It wasn’t quite an ashtray flavour, but it was along those lines, maybe there was a bit of cardboard in there too. Either way, it was quite off putting and was a disappointing end to what would otherwise have been an unchallenging and pretty forgetful quaffer.

Wolf Brewery’s Poppy Ale poured a very pale golden colour, with a slight haze, so pale, that you wouldn’t look twice if you’d poured it by accident instead of a Pilsner. The fluffy white head was easily formed, but it dropped fairly quickly to a very thin covering. The nose was subtle, which is another way of saying that there wasn’t much of one. If I’m being generous, I’d say it was delicate, with very subtle honey notes.

In the mouth it probably felt slightly less full bodied than it actually was, there was a certain watery, juiciness that crept in around the edges, which made it feel a bit thin at the end. There was a nice soft maltiness at the start, which was replaced by a pleasant bitter mouth prickle, before the honey took over. The aftertaste was all honey, with some subtle lemon thrown in for good measure. The mouth eventually was left with a lemon tinged bitterness that slowly dissipated over a few minutes.

This was one of my favourites in the regional tasting, it’s easy drinking, light, with a nice bitter edge and then that lovely honey. It’s not perfect, I do think honey works better in dark beers, it can be quite a powerful flavour for a light beer to carry. I have a feeling that this will not be to everyone’s taste, as I think some people wont get on with the honey in the aftertaste.

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