Lemon Head and Snowy

Sainsbury's Great British Beer Hunt 2012

Nethergate Lemon Head poured a surprisingly dark copper, I was expecting something much lighter, especially since it’s supposed to be a golden ale. While the off white head was easily formed, it wasn’t very large and was very loose, so it dropped to a thin patchy covering pretty quickly. You could smell massive lemon and ginger notes streaming from the glass during the pour, very reminiscent of the aroma of bashed lemon grass. After sitting for a while though, it all changed and the lemon departed to leave just a strong ginger aroma on the nose.

In the mouth I thought it was a bit of a disaster. It felt a bit thin, with some initial lemon and malty flavours, but they were squashed pretty sharpish by some harsh ginger flavours. There was then a carbonic prickle that ran right from the inside of the lips to the back of the mouth and then faded into a manky aftertaste. The aftertaste tasted initially like flat carbonated water that had been lightly flavoured with some ginger cake. Once that had passed, the mouth was left with a juicy lemon water feeling, with only the subtlest hints of ginger.

It was all just a bit jarring, flipping from flavour to flavour with little integration or continuity. The fizzy water gone flat after taste was really disappointing too, as I’m sure it would have been slightly nicer if those overly forced carbonation remnants hadn’t been there.

It was with some trepidation that I approached Cotleigh Snowy, the final clear bottled entry in this years competition, I really wasn’t that impressed with the other two and was hoping that this one wouldn’t exhibit the same issues. Unfortunately, just like the Indian Summer and Horizon, it had similar Rhubarb and Custard crossed with Pear Drop aromas. I’m sure my description of Rhubarb and Custard crossed with Pear Drops can’t be right, I might have to invest in some 3-methyl-2-butene-1-thiol capsules to train myself to what skunked beer really tastes and smells like, but until I do, Rhubarb and Custard crossed with Pear Drops will have to suffice.

While the previous two beers in clear glass were really pale and golden, this one was more of a copper colour. A white coloured head was relatively easily formed, but it did fizz a bit while pouring and it dropped to a patch and then a ring round the edge of the glass fairly quickly. As stated, this beer had some Rhubarb and Custard crossed with Pear Drop aromas, they weren’t as bad as the Indian Summer or the Horizon, but they were there. Once you got past those though, there was a maltiness that revealed itself, with subtle hints of marmalade even.

In the mouth the Rhubarb and Custard crossed with Pear Drop flavours weren’t really there, they were, but just really subtle and quickly swamped by other flavours. There was quite a bit of flavourful malt to start with, which was a good foundation for a pleasant wave of bitterness that swept through the mouth. There was unfortunately a bit of cardboard after that, which luckily faded quickly and left the mouth with a slightly juicy, subtle bitter orange marmalade aftertaste. Once all the flavours had gone however, the back of the mouth was left with a really nasty flavour.

I almost want to say that the throat was left feeling like you’d licked an ashtray, as that’s not quite right. I’ve smoked the odd *cough* cigarette *cough* in my time, so I know that dry buzzing nicotine throat thing that you can get. I’ve also had some KeTo ReAle and KeTo RePorter from Birra del Borgo, both of which are brewed with tobacco and gave me that same back of the throat buzz. This on the other hand didn’t give any sort of buzz, it just left the throat really dry with a similar manky ashtray like flavour. Really, really not that pleasant at all.

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