This Sunday just passed was bloody cold. It was lovely during the day as the sun beamed down upon us and we could get out and enjoy our weekend. But, as the great fiery ball began to set and the night drew in, we were cruelly reminded that it is, indeed, still winter (hell, it snowed in Manchester that day!). But the cold isn’t all bad. Yes, it nips at our toes and numbs our fingers, but it’s a fine excuse to break out those strong ‘winter warmers’.
Despite hankering for barley wine all winter long, I’ve not got round to drinking out yet this season, will not since a trip to North Bar where I found Sierra Nevada’s wonderful Big Foot (barrel-aged, no less!) on tap. That was back in September/October though.
Anyway, this preamble leads me to trying Gadds’ Oooks! (brewed by East Kent’s Ramsgate Brewery). I found this at Beer Ritz and since I was hankering for the barley wine I bought this bottle and a bottle of the same stuff barrel-aged. I’ll tell you about the barrel-aged stuff when I get round to supping it, but for now I’m on this stuff.
The first pour (in my fancy new glass from Alex at All Beer) looks promising. It’s rich and dark enough to be near, but not quite, black, with a nice (if slightly murky) head. Unfortunately, I think this bottle (or batch) may have been a bit spoiled [I notice Zak Avery feels similarly about his try of the barrel-aged stuff here, although he blames it on the barreling, so maybe I’m wrong – who knows?] the nose picks up a strong alcoholic kick and a sweet grapefruity note, but underlying it all is an unpleasant acidic tang.
The tang carries through on the taste a little afterwards. The lovely stuff you want from a barley wine is all there, that warm, mouth coating smoky thickness and almost creamy richness, but there’s an unpleasant tangy aftertaste lurking around waiting to spoil my fun. The bastard. Seeing past that though, that yummy caramel, malt and toffee flavours do just win out, it almosts tastes sticky.
Unfortunately that lingering bitterness means I can’t really fall for this beer. I’d give it another go, but it sounds like Beer Ritz’s got none left – what’s a boy to do? I do still, of course, have the barrel-aged cousin to try, but having read Zak’s post, I guess that’s set to upset me too. Damn.