Great British Beer Hunt: Golden Seahawk and Churchill IPA

We’re onto the home straight, eight beers left to review in the Sainsbury’s Great British Beer Hunt 2011, including these two. First up, Cotleigh Golden Seahawk, which is supporting a raptor charity, so gets my vote instantly.

It poured a lovely light golden amber, with a loose cream coloured head. The head dropped to a good blotchy covering fairly quickly and lasted most if the way down the glass, leaving excellent lacing as it did so. The nose had two parts to it, there was a malty cereal type note and also some fruity notes from the hops.

It felt quite full bodied, with a good solid malty backbone. The bitterness was very subtle and very fruity (I know fruit is a cop out, but that’s it, fruity in a British hop kind of way), the fruitiness lingered long into the after taste. There was also another flavour in there, just before the after taste, I couldn’t quite place it, but it had a cereal kind of quality about it. There was also a touch of wateriness to the after taste when it had warmed up a bit.

Next up was Oxfordshire’s Churchill IPA, which poured an amber colour, with a good cream coloured head. The head dropped to a solid half finger and appeared to be fed by rather a lot of bubbles. There appeared to be a bit of sediment at the bottom of the bottle, but there was no mention of it being bottle conditioned. In fact, the ingredients state, Carbon Dioxide, so I’m assuming it’s force carbonated.

The nose appeared to have a bit of Burton snatch about it, although I could have been mistaken. At least it was an aroma that reminded me of the Burton snatch, rather than it actually being the Burton snatch

I quite enjoyed this beer, it was pleasantly full bodied, with a nice bitterness. The bitterness took over for an initial maltiness and swept threw the mouth and left a lingering fruitiness. As I got further down the glass though, the after taste started to take on an ash tray quality, which wasn’t so good. It also got smoother the longer it sat there, so the initial prickly bitterness had its edges softened.

Great British Beer Hunt: Frederic’s Great British Alcoholic Ginger Beer and Worcester Sorcerer

Alcoholic ginger beer has been really big over the last year or so, I’ve reviewed a couple, so it was no great surprise to see one the shelves as part of Sainsbury’s Great British Beer Hunt 2011.

Robinson’s Frederic’s Great British Alcoholic Ginger Beer poured a surprisingly deep brown, practically every other alcoholic ginger beer that I’ve had, has been much lighter in colour. I did manage to coax a decent head during the pour, but it didn’t last and dropped to a thin line round the edge of the glass. There was surprisingly little ginger on the nose, it was there, but quite subtle.

This has to be the oddest alcoholic ginger beer I’ve had, it didn’t seem to know if it was a beer with added ginger or a ginger beer. There was a solid malty backbone and a not particularly fiery ginger aftertaste, but it was all a bit disjointed.

It was initially malty, but then it switched to being gingery, with out any real integration between the two, it was like the two main flavours hadn’t been melded together in any way. If they had integrated the malt and ginger flavours together, so it was both at the same time, rather than one, then the other, it might have worked a bit better.

There was more going on too, after the initial maltiness, there was a sprightliness just before the ginger cut in, that carried a weird odd taste that I couldn’t quite identify. This flavour got much, much worse when it got warm to the point of swamping most of the ginger, and if I’d had more than a couple of mouthfuls left, I’m not sure I’d have been able to finish it.

  • RateBeer Robinson’s
  • Frederic’s Great British Alcoholic Ginger Beer, 3.8%, 500ml

Sadler’s Worcester Sorcerer poured a lovely amber colour with a very loose cream coloured head. The head dropped to a blotchy covering fairly quickly and lasted most of the way down the glass. I didn’t get much on the nose, there was something subtle going on, but I just couldn’t place it. If I was being generous, then there may have been a hint of grass, but not the same grassiness that you’d get with a Jever or Budvar, for instance.

It’s not often I read the back of a bottle and agree with the tasting notes, but the ones on the back of this bottle were spot on. It wasn’t quite smooth in the mouth, there was what felt like a bit of soft loose carbonation rolling over the tongue. When that had dissipated, it was all warm juicy toffee apple malts and a lingering slightly bitter sweet aftertaste.

I quite enjoyed it, even though I’m not the biggest fan of malt led bitters. I did find the initial soft carbonation distracting though and I think I would have enjoyed it a bit more if that hadn’t have been there.

Great British Beer Hunt: Wild Hop IPA and Bad King John

First in today’s Sainsbury’s Great British Beer Hunt 2011 reviews, Harviestoun Wild Hop IPA, which doesn’t actually have any wild hops in it. I’ve had it on cask before, it was on special for a previous Wetherspoon festival and I really, really enjoyed it, so I was more than happy to find it in bottles.

It poured a crystal clear golden colour with a large fluffy white head. The head dropped quite quickly to a thin covering. The nose had some subtle citrus notes, it took a while to pin the, down to grapefruit, although there may have been a bit of mandarin in there too.

It was smooth in the mouth, with a nice full body. The bitterness built and built and reached a nice crunching fruity crescendo, before tapering off. The main flavours seemed to be soft and subtle grapefruit and mandarin, they were joined in the after taste by a hint of pineapple.

This was a really, really nice and moreish pale and hoppy beer, I could quite happily drink a shed load of it.

Ridgeway’s Bad King John had me confused from the start, it said bottle conditioned on the label (and what a label it is), but there was not one iota of sediment in the bottle. It looked black sitting in the glass, but it was just a really, really dark auburn brown; only becoming see through when held up to a light. It took a while to get the head started and it never got much bigger than a finger, it dropped pretty quickly to a patchy covering.

The nose was all roasted malts and smelt really inviting. The mouth feel wasn’t as big as I was expecting for a 6% beer, it was maybe a tad on the thin side for my liking. The initial roasted flavours gave way to a nice complementing bitterness, before both combined in a lingering dry after taste.

I thought it was a nice beer, but just wish it had had a bit more body.

  • RateBeer Ridgeway
  • Bad King John, 6%, 500ml

Great British Beer Hunt: Flying Dutchman and Bishops Farewell

Two more beers from the Sainsbury’s Great British Beer Hunt 2011, first up, Caledonian Flying Dutchman.

It poured a crystal clear burnished amber, with a loose white head. The head dropped fairly quickly to a patchy covering, but had good legs. The nose was complex, but barely perceptible. The main aroma appeared to me to be that dry yeasty smell you get off some bottle conditioned beers, but which I think is actually due to the wheat. Expelling every ounce of air from lungs allowed me to detect faint, faint hints of orange and spice, but they were so, so faint.

The blurb on the back of the bottle said it had a light body, I found it surprisingly full bodied, but not in a bad way. It seemed to sooth and caress the inside of my mouth with subtle orange marmalade notes. There was also a spiciness around the back of the mouth and a general drying of the palette the more I drank.

To be honest, I thought I was going to be disappointed by this beer, there was no sediment to mix in for starters. However, I quite liked it, although, just like the Wold Top Golden Summer, maybe a few more hops and less palette drying wheat (I know it’s a wheat beer, but I’ve homebrewed a Balgian Wit and it wasn’t this drying), would have really done it for me.

Strangely, I’ve never had a pint of Oakham Bishops Farewell in the pub, mainly as I’ve never seen it. I’ve had the opportunity to buy it in bottles for a awhile now though, but something has always stopped me, normally it’s so I can buy more of their excellent Citra, so it was about time I tried one.

It poured a slightly hazy golden colour with a fluffy white head. The head took a bit of effort to get going, but once started, it nearly burst out of the glass. You could smell the aroma while pouring the beer, but once it was all in, it seemed to calm down and the pineapple cube notes were harder to pick out.

It was quite sprightly in the mouth, with an almost instant bitter prickle that built to a crescendo of citrus and pineapple. It all tailed off into the after taste, but I could still taste pineapple ages after a mouth full. Whilst it wasn’t as full on as their excellent Inferno, or as sinkable as their Citra, it was still a cracking, fuller bodied pale and hoppy beer.

Great British Beer Hunt: Caesar Augustus and Golden Summer

This is the first of my posts dealing with beers from the Sainsbury’s Great British Beer Hunt 2011. Hopefully, there will be a blog every day for the next eight days with my thoughts on two of the beers. First up we have Williams Brothers Lager/IPA Hybrid Caesar Augustus.

It poured a crystal clear golden colour with a large fluffy white head. The head dropped to a covering fairly quickly and eventually to just a ring around the inside of the glass. I didn’t get much on the nose at first, there was a general fresh grassy aroma and what I can only describe as a cerealy type note. Later on, I though I could smell some faint marmalade notes, but I couldn’t be sure.

It was quite light bodied, but not watery in any way. It felt spritzy in the mouth, with what I thought was a faint metallic edge. It also felt like a beer of two halves, initially a lager, which then gave way to what, I would consider, a pale ale. There was some malty sweetness, with just a bit of bitterness to keep it in check.

I know the labels says Lager/IPA Hybrid, so I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I thought this was an odd beer. I really wasn’t sure what to make of it, I spent far too much time trying to figure out what was going on, which meant I couldn’t just sit back and enjoy drinking it.

Next up was Wold Top’s Golden Summer, which I was quite looking forward to, as I’d just looked at a review of it over on Hopzine.com. It poured a crystal clear amber with a tight white head. The head dropped relatively quickly to a patchy covering. I didn’t get much on the nose at all, there seemed to be a faint aroma that reminded me of drying yeast though.

I wasn’t sure what to make of this beer either. It was quite light bodied, but just like the Caeser Augustus, there was no hint of wateryness. An initial fleeting malty sweetness gave way to a bitter prickle that swamped everything. The after taste was really drying and just like the nose, reminded me of that mouth drying you can get from some yeasts. Having read the blurb on the back of the bottle, there is some wheat in the grist of this beer, so all that drying must have come from that. There was also a certain fruitiness from the Goldings, Styrian Goldings and Cascade hops, that appeared and disappeared during the after taste.

I thought thus one was OK, if unspectacular. I’d rather it had had a bit more bitterness from the hops and a little less of the drying after taste.

Sainsbury’s Great British Beer Hunt 2011

Sainsburys Great British Beer Hunt 2011

The 16 finalists of this years Sainsbury’s Great British Beer Hunt should now available to buy in your local store and will be available to buy until the 27th of the month. The competition prize is a permanent listing in Sainsbury’s stores nationwide. The 16 beers available are:

Wild Hop IPA, Harviestoun Brewery
Caesar Augustus, Williams Brothers
Profanity Stout, Williams Brothers
Flying Dutchman, Caledonian Brewing Co
Ivanhoe, Ridgeway Brewing
Bad King John, Ridgeway Brewing
Stronghart, McMullen & Sons
Bishops Farewell, Oakham Ales
Wye Not, Wye Valley Brewery
Churchill Ale, Oxfordshire Ales Ltd
Golden Seahawk, Cotleigh Brewery
Full Bore, Hunter’s Brewery
Two Hoots, Joseph Holt
Golden Summer, Wold Top Brewery
Frederic’s Great British Ginger Beer, Frederic Robinson
Worcester Sorcerer, Sadler’s Ales

I’ve decided to buy each beer and review it, so I popped into my local store over lunch and managed to pick up 14 of them. Missing from my local store were the Wild Hop IPA and the Two Hoots Golden Ale, so I’m going to have to pop back and pick those up at some point. Not sure when I’ll get round to drinking them, but look out for reviews appearing on the site soon.

Update: I meant to say that these are all on special offer at the moment; 3 for £5.