Great British Beer Hunt: Serendipity and Crafty Dan

Sainsbury's Great British Beer Hunt 2013

I was very pleased to see only one clear bottle sitting on the shelves, when I first went to pick up some of this year’s Great British Beer Hunt finalists. I’m not sure I’ve had a finalist from previous years in a clear bottle that’s been any good, they’ve all seemed to suffer to a greater or lesser extent from their time in clear glass (see here, here, here and here). So while having only the one clear bottle is a definite improvement over previous years, it’s still sad to see that brewers are happily allowing their beer to go out in this kind of packaging.

Bird's SerendipityI had my fingers crossed that Serendipity would buck the clear bottle trend and actually taste of something other than boiled sweet esters. It poured a light coppery colour, with a compact white head. The head didn’t last and dropped to a covering fairly quickly. I thought there was a definite penny chew ester thing going on on the nose, but my wife didn’t think it smelt of anything. Either way, there wasn’t a lot going on, especially none of the tropical fruit aromas that the label claimed would be there.

It felt quite nicely balanced in the mouth, and wasn’t too light of body. Having said that, the aftertaste was a bit on the wishy washy side and while some might say it was refreshing because of that, for me, it just felt a bit of a watery let down. I was expecting far more penny chew ester flavour, but this was pretty subdued, although there wasn’t a lot else competing with it though, especially not the dry citrus flavour of grapefruit and peaches. While there might very well have been a bit of peach in there if you visualised eating a juicy peach while drinking it, there certainly wasn’t any citric grapefruit.

While it wasn’t as bad as I feared, it wasn’t particularly good either. I have a feeling that even if it had been stored in a brown bottle, it wouldn’t have been any better.

So the big question with all these competitions is, have I saved the best till last…? I’ve known about Thwaites Crafty Dan for a while, but I’ve not bothered tracking it down; I’m not sure why. It might be due to a preconceived idea that as a regional brewer, their output will be a tad on the conservative side and thus not very interesting. Having said that, I’ve enjoyed the few pints of Wainwright I’ve had when our paths have crossed.

Thwaites Crafty DanCrafty Dan poured a deep burnished copper brown, with a good frothy white head. The nose was interesting, with a subtle, yet distinct freshly picked green hop kind of aroma. After a while though, you could also pick out… [It’s at this point my notes just stop, nada, nothing. I tried to buy another bottle, but my two local stores were both out of stock. So I’ll have to leave it up to you to decide what else I could pick out.]

It was massive in the mouth, with a huge body and massive upfront flavour and bitterness. Waves of sweet marmalade malt and bitter orange flavour rolled through the mouth and into the bitter drying aftertaste. You could still feel bitter marmalade tingling the tongue minutes after having a mouthful, it was absolutely gorgeous.

Having one of these is an absolute must, I’ll be shocked if it doesn’t do well.

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