Sunday 13 December 2009

Burnt rubber and marmalade

We stayed in last night as the lovely Lisa was recovering from her work's xmas do. It seems she ate a bad crisp.

Being denied the delights of the pub I had a look in the beer cupboard and thought it was time to polish off few Sharp's beers that had been hanging around for some time. The Doom Bar was, as it always seems to be nowadays, pleasant enough but a bit dull. And to think I used to get excited when I saw this beer. The Atlantic IPA was decidedly unpleasant, having the unmistakable taste of light strike about it. The flavour reminds me of burnt rubber, though those more familiar with the emissions of the skunk's anal gland refer to it as 'skunked'.  It didn't make for pleasant drinking but it did answer the question I've been pondering about Sharp's beers - do they use isomerised hop extracts? 

Discerning beer nerds will know that putting beer in clear glass bottles leaves them vulnerable to light strike, unless they've used hop extracts instead of actual hops when making the beer. When brewers like Sharp's, who aren't dumb, sell their beer in clear bottles I get suspicious about what the beer is made of. Having a light struck bottle of Sharp's beer shows that they are still using actual hops, but it also shows that the marketing people can overrule the brewers on bottle choice. 

Having had enough of Sharp's and with a Fuller's tasting evening still fresh in my mind I dug out a bottle of Vintage Ale next. I went for the 2003 vintage, made with Goldings hops and Golden Promise malt. It was an excellent choice as the beer was fantastic. The first sip was, as always, too sweet but after that I got the spicy taste of the Goldings and for the first time in a beer I tasted marmalade. Spicy marmalade might not sound like the sort of thing you'd look for in a beer but it was really very good. 

I've often seen beer writers say they get marmalade flavour from ESB, one of Vintage Ale's little brothers, but I've never noticed it myself before so I was quite excited about this. I'm clearly turning into a proper beer writer - I'll be tasting horse blankets next, you mark my words!  


  1. It's the Goldings hops - you can also get apricots, sometimes, which seem particularly noticeable in Meantime's IPA.

  2. That's interesting, I've made all goldings beers before and not noticed marmalade. Maybe it's the goldings in a sweet beer that does it?