I choose to drink these two together, as they appeared to be the only two bottle conditioned entries in this years Great British Beer Hunt. Both breweries are old hands at the competition, with Hunter’s having their Full Bore reach the grand final, in the same year that Ridgeway won with Bad King John. After that final, I had a few more of the Hunter’s bottles, which I found to be good solid beers, if lacking the necessary to really excite a beer geek.
Devon Dreamer on the other hand, has Citra in it, according to the back label; that alone should be enough to excite a few people. It poured a very slightly hazey marmalade amber colour, with a loose off white head. The haze was due to a bit of the sediment getting into the glass, mainly as this bottle was a touch over carbonated, so some of it got lifted from the bottom of the bottle when I cracked it open.
I was surprised that there wasn’t much in the way of an aroma, I was expecting a hint of ripe mango at the least. You could tell it was a touch over carbonated in the mouth, as it was tending to soft bubbles the moment it hit the tongue. Flavour wise, it was nice enough, in a subtle and well balanced kind of way, although it did had a nice bitter tickle about it. The effect of the Citra was muted, but definitely there, lending a slightly tropical flavour to the end of the mouth.
Given the other Hunter’s beers I’ve had, this one is certainly more adventurous. Although I have a colleague at work who wasn’t too impressed as he was expecting more Citra influence. As with rest of the beers I’ve tried from them, it’s not going to get a beer geeks heart racing, it’s just a good solid effort. If you like your beer on the well balanced and subtler side of things, but fancy something with just a bit more, then this might just be for you.
Let’s get the branding of this beer out of the way first. I don’t like it, but then, I don’t like the branding on any of Ridgeway’s Christmas beers Santa’s Butt; Bad Elf; Seriously Bad Elf; Criminally Bad Elf; etc. In my opinion, they’re all badly named and have bad artwork. I know they’re mainly for the US market and that you couldn’t even get them over here a few years ago, but still, I hope that the US drinkers don’t think all our beer is branded like that.
I remember at the regional heats last year, I asked a chap why he’d picked Bad Elf out of all those on offer. He said it was due to the comedy label, I could have cried. But then, that’s part of the competition, it’s not just about the beer in the bottle, it also about what’s on the bottle. So it’s definitely a case of each to their own with regards that that…
Reindeer Droppings poured a copper amber colour, with a good thick white head. The head dropped to a covering fairly quickly, but hung around for a bit before dissipating. I mentioned at the start, that this was bottled conditioned, you can’t tell from the bottle as it doesn’t mention it. Luckily, the yeast was all stuck to the bottom of the bottle, but I can imaging that some people won’t be as gentle when handling and pouring their bottles; I hope it doesn’t detract from their enjoyment.
There wasn’t a lot on the nose, just some subtle marmalade malt notes. The flavour was pretty one sided, with subtle sweet bitter orange flavours, leading to a slightly dusty, yeasty lingering aftertaste. There was a decent bitterness to it, but it didn’t feel particularly bitter, partly due to the sweetness and partly the slight dustiness from the yeast character.
The export version of this beer is 6% ABV, I can’t help but think that one of those would have been a more enjoyable experience. While it wasn’t bad, it just didn’t do anything for me, it was just a bit, well, meh.
- Reindeer Droppings, 4.7%, 500ml