Bottle: Poured a deep brown color ale with a generous foamy head with surprisingly good retention and good lacing. Aroma of well balanced caramel malt with just enough sweetness and some light dry English hops as well. Taste is also a well balance mix between some rich caramel malt with just enough sweetness and some dominant English hops (which are sadly on the decline since this is not as fresh as it once was). Well made for a style that doesn't offer it fair share of surprise.
A healthy pour sneaks up on me and I am forced to suck foam to stave off a foam over; the foam is quite hoppy with a nice mix of ripe berry and herbal notes. The head has lots of structure to it and it leaves lots of thick lacing on the sides of the glass as it slowly recedes. I end up with three-fingers of light tan colored froth in my glass. The beer is a ruddy, dark red / brown color that shows a brilliantly clear, gold highlighted, cranberry red color when held up to the light. The aroma has a nice mix of malt and hop character to it, though it is more hop leaning than anything; aromas of berries, bergamot, blood orange and some light herbal notes are backed by a caramelized malt note and a touch of biscuit like grain character.
Lightly sweet malt accentuates the citrus hop notes. The beer picks up a buttery malt character towards the middle that is almost more texture than flavor; this actually has a fair amount of body to it for a beer of this strength. Sharp herbal hop notes and a substantial bitterness are noticeable as the beer first hits my lips through to the lingering finish. This beer is quite hoppy (far more so than I was expecting considering the label says this is a traditional British Brown Ale), with only a supporting malt character. Flavors of menthol, citrus infused berry jam, orange citrus oil, a touch of lychee and substantial, lingering herbal note are all easily found here. The subtle malt character boosts the hop notes more than anything, but there is a touch of nuttiness to the finish as well as a suggestion of toasted grain.
Quite a nice surprise, I thought I was in the mood for a nice malty brown ale, but it turns out I could use some hops.
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