Thursday 5 March 2009

Sampling some strong ones

My recent trip to the lake district may have seen me mainly drinking beers below 4% ABV but in my shopping trip to Booths I stocked up on some beers considerably stronger. 

First up is Innis and Gunn triple matured. In Britain at least it was Innis and Gunn that got the whole oak aged beer thing going. It took me a while to make my mind up on it and some bottles seemed to taste good and some I could well do without before I decided that OK, I like it. The flavour is certainly different for a beer which is probably why it took me a while to get used to it. It's pretty mild tasting for a strong beer with a slight sweetness and not much in the way of hops but a definite vanilla character from the oak. Innis and Gunn have build on their brand by bringing out a variety of different versions. The triple matured version I was drinking is stronger and has longer maturation than the bog standard version but to me anyway tasted pretty much the same as all the other versions I've tried. Except for the IPA they did that is, where they cranked up the hops, normally something I approve of but in this case the added bitterness just didn't work.

Next was another oak aged beer Ola Dubh from Harviestoun.  Ola Dubh is gaelic for 'Black Oil' so presumably the beer is based on their Old Engine Oil.  To the credit of Harviestoun this is the only beer I've tasted aged in whisky barrels that actually has a whisky flavour. Unfortunately I don't like whisky so I won't be drinking this one again. 

Last up of the strong ones was the daddy of them all:  Lee's Harvest Ale. At 11.5% it's right up at the top end of beers in Britain, though if I remember rightly a smidgeon lower in strength than last years vintage. Still I have to say I prefer this years: it's still strong and sweet but last years seemed so sweet I really thought they must have had a problem with their fermentation. 

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