Great British Beer Hunt: Wayfarer IPA and Barney’s Brew

Sainsbury's Great British Beer Hunt 2013

I’ll admit to getting myself into a bit of a confusion with the Orkney Wayfarer when I first saw all the Great British Beer Hunt bottles sitting on the shelves of my local Sainsbury’s. I still remember the Atlas Brewery from when it was a stand-alone affair and not a sub-brand of Sinclair Breweries. So when I read the press release with all the finalists and just saw Orkney Brewery Wayfarer IPA, I thought that it was a new beer from Orkney, forgetting that I’d actually had it on cask last year in Cambridge. I’ve always quite liked the Atlas stuff, I used to pick up the odd bottle or four when I went home to visit my parent in Fife, so I was quite looking forward to trying this one.

Orkney Brewery Wayfarer IPAWayfarer poured a burnished light copper colour, with a decent white head, which dropped to a good covering and lasted. The nose was very pleasant and quite complex; while there were definite citric notes, these were playing second fiddle to some sort of floral notes that I couldn’t quite pin down. It wasn’t quite the full on fruit salad, and while not massively powerful, was quite inviting.

It felt pleasant in the mouth, with a nice upfront slightly orange floral taste, to balance the malty sweetness. For me though, that’s when things started to go downhill a bit, as something just started grating. I’m not sure if was the wheat, which was clearly discernible, or a general lack of cohesion, but it just didn’t deliver. It had a nice level of bitterness, but the floral flavour, wheaty feel and, slight grainy texture, just wasn’t working for me at all.

I’ve had beers that have had a massively floral hop flavour and they’ve left my mouth screaming in pain, I’m not sure what causes it, or why it happens. There is a certain English brewer whose beers do this to me without fail, so I generally avoid them; this beer was bordering on doing the same. Which, I assume, is why there was something grating, as my taste buds were just screaming a warning at me.

Don’t get me wrong, It’s not a bad beer, it’s just not for me and I’m sure there’ll be plenty of people out there who’ll really like it.

Next up, is the only beer from Northern Ireland to make the final, I’m not sure how many were entered into the regional heat, so have no idea if this is a coup, or no surprise. Barney’s Brew claims to be a wheat beer, with added coriander, cardamom and black pepper, which is so far from being my thing it’s untrue.

Hilden Brewery Barney's BrewIt poured a light golden copper, with a decent, just off white head. Even though the head looked substantial, it dropped to a patchy covering fairly quickly. The nose was ridiculous, it smelt like someone had dropped the contents of their spice cupboard into the beer; it absolutely stank of coriander.

Unfortunately the spices weren’t limited to the aroma. When I said this kind of thing isn’t my thing, I wasn’t joking, I positively hate this kind of beer. It totally reminded me on Umbel Ale and I hate Umbel Ale. It was all coriander, with a faint hint of cardamom and a lingering manky dusty black pepper aftertaste. The juicy orangey malt flavour just couldn’t compete and with each mouthful, the taste buds were battered a bit further into submission by all the coriander. I thought it was hideous, absolutely hideous.

I’m not saying it’s a bad beer, enough people at the regional heats must have liked it for it to get this far. All I’m saying is that massively spiced beers like this, are really, really not my cup of tea at all, I hope it never darkens my door again.

3 Replies to “Great British Beer Hunt: Wayfarer IPA and Barney’s Brew”

  1. To true, the Hilden stuff was rank. Top two so far are Infrared and Querktus, or however it is spelled!

  2. Just jumping in for a small defense of Hilden’s Barney’s Brew, ‘cus they’re my local, and they’re lovely people. They own two top-notch restaurants, and I reckon it was specifically designed to match certain dishes there. Dunno how it ended up getting so far in the competition, I guess the judges for Sainsburys wanted the novelty of it in the mix. Hilden make several other great beers, including what may well be the best stout in Ireland.

    However, If I was going to push one Norn Iron craft beer on mainland drinkers to show what we are doing over here, it’d be Whitewater’s Hoppelhammer, which is absolutely bloomin’ magical.

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