Jeff Evans back with the first beer review of 2023
JIDDLER’S TIPPLE/ BY THE HORNS PANETTONE IMPERIAL PASTRY STOUT, 11.5%
For Christmas, these two London breweries worked together to release a Panettone Stout, laced with vanilla, raisins, orange, rum and brandy. They also produced this stronger, longermatured version which extends the flavours of the festive season well into the New Year.
Usually, when I hear the words “pastry beer”, I quickly look for something else, but this strong stout – although deliberately contrived to recreate the flavours of panettone – actually works very well.
The texture is smooth and the flavours are sweet and creamy, with lots of “raisins-steeped-in-brandy” flavours and bursts of candied orange. But this is a powerful beer that doesn’t pull its punches. The prickly alcohol presence in the mouth gives way to a warming finish that remains sweet but is prevented from cloying by a little dark-grain bitterness.
ROUND CORNER EYE OF THE STORM, 7.3%
Described as a “vintage ale”, this interesting beer – named after the River Eye that runs close to the Melton Mowbray brewery – is a collaboration with Yeastie Boys.
The chestnutred colour suggests fruity sweetness and that is what is delivered in the aroma, with more than a reminder of the red sweets in a bag of Fox’s Glacier Fruits.
The same fruitiness continues in the taste but is this time a touch more restrained, allowing other elements to come through. These include hints of cough candy and a developing bitterness that has an almost liquorice note to contrast nicely with the sticky fruit.
The finish dries very quickly, because of the generous hopping with UK Ernest hops, and the use of Belgian candi sugar prevents the beer from being too heavy, while disguising its strength very well.
DARK STAR PRIZE OLD ALE, 9%
One of Britain’s true classic beers has returned, but for how long? Gale’s stock old ale was continued for a while at Fuller’s when the Hampshire brewery closed and versions have been produced at Marble in Manchester, too. This time around, brewing has taken place at Dark Star in Sussex, like Fuller’s owned by Asahi, but where brewing ceased at the end of 2022 (with most production moved to Meantime in London).
This ale is a blend of fresh beer and aged beer that contains the original Gale’s bacteria to add a distinctive acidic kick. Strawberries and other red berries feature on the sweet palate, which is delightfully offset by a tart, slightly woody edge and balsamic notes at all times.
Despite the warmth throughout, it drinks quite light for the strength, leaving a drying, woody, tart finish with lingering sweet strawberries. It’s a great, historic beer. Let’s hope this is not the last we see of it.
CHILTERN BRITISH IPA, 5.6%
Like this family-run brewery itself, this new IPA is solidly British and of great quality. It pours a deep golden colour with smooth, sweet malt leading the way in the taste, nodding a little towards caramel.
Then, the sharpness of spicy British hops bounds in, bringing a drying bitterness to the palate. Light, estery perfumes gently complement stone fruit notes from the hops before a dry, leafy, lingering finish that is wonderfully tangy and increasingly bitter but never harsh.
At Chiltern, they do things properly, as this robust, satisfying, vegan-friendly IPA – one of the brewery’s first canned beers – proves yet again. If you can’t get hold of the classic Worthington’s White Shield, this makes a fine substitute.