Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Duchy Originals - Old Ruby Ale 1905

Beer: Duchy Originals Organic Old Ruby Ale 1905
Brewery: Wychwood (Oxfordshire)
Type: English Pale Ale
ABV: 5.0%

Hoping to get a hold the last of my pumpkin ales by the end of the week (just in time for Hallowe'en!).  

In the meantime, here's an interesting little number.

Duchy Originals is an organic food/products company from Britain, founded by none other than Prince Charles himself.  Starting in 1990, Prince Charles began utilizing land under his own administration to pursue an organic farming project that over the past twenty years has grown to produce vegetables, preserves, biscuits, jellies, wine and (of course) beer.   These products are all certified organic and available through the supermarket chain Waitrose, with a certain percentage of the proceeds given to support The Prince's Charities.  The ale brewing was outsourced to Wychwood, brewers of Fiddler's Elbow, Hobgoblin and Wychcraft.

Support both organic farming and charity by buying beer - if only this counted towards my community know...for that thing I did.  

So far there have been two variations of the Duchy Organic ale lineup available at the LCBO: a bitter and a pale ale, the latter having arrived in a few locations across the province.   According to the bottle label, this particular pale ale utilizes a unique English barley known  "Plumage Archer", which apparently was first cultivated in 1905 - hence the name. 

Looks good on paper, but how will it withstand a merciless critical lashing from yours truly?  Not too badly, in fact.

Poured into your standard nonic ale glass.  Nice ruby-copper colour, no visible carbonation - completely clear.  The pour produced a half-inch head of foamy head, which receded into a fine ring after a few moments (very common for the style).  Some flakes of lacing remain above the pour line.  All looks well so far.

The nose is fairly standard for an English pub ale: caramel, pale malts, loose-leaf orange pekoe, light hops, metallic tang. 

The taste is also quite standard, perhaps a touch better-made than most.  Similar notes as seen in the nose, with the malts providing a nice profile and the tea flavor from the hops smoothing things out a bit.  Notes of fruit as well.  Finishes dry with a mild bitter lemon hop character. 

Mouthfeel is thin and quaffable, carbonation is a touch high for the style, but for me, since I've yet to develop a full appreciation for lower-carbonated English ales, this was a plus.

Rounded, flavorful, an easily drinkable pale ale.  Now, there's nothing terribly interesting about the brew:  it drinks like many an English pale does, but it comes with a nice warm feeling of organic-grown charity goodness.  Indeed, there isn't much to write home about this particular barley grain - the strain was probably chosen because it was suited to the region and was receptive to organic growing techniques.  Or there was another reason.  No matter.

Duchy's Old Ruby Ale 1905 is definitely worth a try.   At the very least, by purchasing it you can say to those around you that you've "supported charity" today.  Drink up, hero.

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