Monday, December 7, 2009

Wherein Matt Waxes Poetic About British Ales for a Page or Two.

Beer: Broadside Strong Original
Brewery: Adnams (Suffolk)
Type: Strong Pale Ale
ABV: 6.3%

On, my beer-reviewing website of choice, the web designers ask you under your 'profile' settings identify your favourite style of beer. This, to a beer geek, is tantamount to asking a person point blank what their favorite movie or song is. You might get an immediate answer, but if you allow them to think about it for too long, they'll second-guess themselves after dozens of other potential 'favorite' candidates glide through their cerebellum. It's damned frustrating really, and the same goes with beer. I can safely say that I can drink pretty much any style of beer, and although I enjoy certain variations a little more than others, picking a favorite is a tough job. On the website, I went with my gut reaction, which was English porter, but depending on the situation, I might specifically crave a Belgian Wit, an American IPA or a Russian Stout.

It's tough to settle on a favorite, but I certainly must say, English ales are awesome. Not only are they rich in malty, fruity goodness, they also make feel like I'm having a "proper" pint in my "local." In other words, they taste like beer should taste like, and that suits me just fine.

"They say that John Bull is a bad mother-..."

Here is another fine example of England's fine ale-y output.
First of all, look at the bottle. I mean, really look at it. It looks like a friggin shell casing from the First World War!

It also has a frigate on the front.

It also is named after a naval cannon-firing tactic.

The brewery is also named in honour of a massive naval battle against the Dutch Empire that happened just outside the brewery in 1672!

This beer could only get more manly if it had a picture of Tom Selleck on the front.

But, as is the message from every children's film ever produced, it's what's on the inside that counts - even if the outside is shaped like a fucking bullet.

Broadside (great name...) pours a rich, dark ruby colour, leaving about an inch of white head. It stuck around for a while in a thin layer, and as you can almost see in the image there, it leaves a nice, spidery lacing effect. Very nice.

The smell is not potent; in fact it only comes about after the brew is allowed to warm up a trifle, but it's pretty standard fare for a British ale: lightly roasted malts, nuts, bread and biscuits, and with a mild fruit flavour cutting through (apple). There's a bit of yeast in there as well.

The taste is simply terrific. Much like the nose, only more complex and satisfying. In addition to roasted malt and bread, I also get a great combination of spices and herbs, which give the beer a certain fruit characteristic. Plums, cherries and apples combine with a puckery bitterness to produce a satisfying finish. I can detect a bit of alcohol (after all, the beer is over 6%), but it doesn't interfere with the brew's balance. Very smooth.

The mouthfeel is a little bit syrupy, but still terrific. The carbonation is about right for the style.

All in all, a terrific English ale. Wonderfully complex, great for sipping or for drinking in a session - although the alcohol content will creep up on you. Definitely worth picking up if you're into English ales, and certainly not a bad introduction either. Great stuff! (Grade: A)

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