Prodigal Sun and Mocha

Sainsbury's Great British Beer Hunt 2012

I’d been looking forward to this one, as I’m a bit of a fan of Williams Brothers and their beer, so I bought two in anticipation of it being great. Since then I’ve read a few comments about it on Twitter and in blogs, mostly about the fact that it tastes like raspberry jam; since I love raspberry jam, I’ve been eager to crack into one, not sure why I’ve wait so long.

Billed as an Aromatic Golden Ale, I was surprised to see it pour a red tinged brown colour, it certainly wasn’t golden. A loose white head was easily formed, but dropped to a patchy covering fairly quickly. It certainly lived up the aromatic part of its billing, the nose was substantial and pretty complex. It was quite thick with general red berry type notes; I’d love to say what kind of red berries, but I couldn’t pick any one particular type out.

The initial taste in the mouth wasn’t so great, it felt a bit light of body and had a slightly carbonic edge to it. Then the raspberry jam cut in and it was like drinking a liquidised jammy dodger, it was most unusual. The mouth was then treated to quite a cutting bitter sharpness, that rolled around in a slightly watery, carbonic fashion for a bit. It was hard to know if this was from the carbonation or from the hops, but it didn’t feel particularly integrated with the rest of the beer. The aftertaste was slightly sweet, but at the same time not so sweet and mainly tasted of red fruits, but not raspberry in particular, just general red fruits.

I was picking hops while drinking this, so I wasn’t drinking very quickly and it took well over an hour and a half to finish. In that time it changed, all the carbonic edges disappeared and it became more integrated, slightly softer and rounder and the flavours flowed all the way through without interruption. It was a much better beer having sat for a bit, but it was getting a bit flabby as I finished it. I’m still not sure what to make of it though, it was odd, but not necessarily in a bad way.

The first thing I noticed as I inspected the Batemans Mocha bottle, was the little picture on the back label telling me to Serve in a large wine glass, I used my dimpled mug thank you very much. Who do Batemans think I am, Zak Avery? I also noticed that it’s a Vegan beer, with the The Vegan Society trademark logo on there as well, which is quite nice to know.

It poured a serious dark reddish brown colour, not quite what I would describe as mahogany as it was maybe a bit too dark for that, but pretty close. While the tan coloured head was a decent size, it wasn’t until I’d poured about half the bottle that I realised that the head wasn’t really forming. A swift bit of high pouring later, a semi-decent head was formed, shame it dropped to a thin patchy covering fairly quickly. The nose was rather intense, in fact, it absolutely reeked, mainly of chocolate, but with a little bit of coffee hiding around the edges. It was also really annoying, as it smelt exactly like a kind of chocolate I know, but I just couldn’t remember which one, my mind went blank. Unfortunately for me, it just reminded me of the kind of chocolate that I don’t like, I prefer mine to be dark, intensely bitter and complicated, this was all sweet and sickly.

It felt relatively full bodied, but not as full bodied as it could have been, I’m not sure if there was a lack of a bit of body, or the perception of a lack of a bit of body. To me, this beer was all about the chocolate, with pretty much no coffee at all. It reminded me in some ways of Rogue’s Double Chocolate Stout, with the chocolate flavours being almost synthetic; I think that’s what I couldn’t put my finger on with the aroma, it wasn’t an actual bar of chocolate it reminded me of, but another beer. There was a bit of effervescent bitterness around the mouth before the sweet chocolate aftertaste cut in and lingered for an absolute age. Right at the death I think I managed to find a bit of coffee flavour, which was a bit disappointing. Having said that, the coffee in the aftertaste increased the more I drank, so by the end, there was a noticeable coffee flavour, but it still wasn’t as much as I was expecting.

Not really my kind of beer, the chocolate flavours were too much and there wasn’t enough coffee.

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