Greene King Strong Suffolk Dark Ale

Total Score: 7.75/10 Caramel1Earth1Wood1Nonicpint1

Greene King, who I am familiar with, we’re not besties but I don’t mind Ruddles County in an English Bitter pinch (cor that is a decent EB undone by being marketed in a clear bottle and said, rightly so, perceptions around that). Where was I going with this train of thought? I really want an English Bitter now… haven’t had one in at least a year… there’s a style I really miss. Oh yeah, I’m reviewing Greene King Strong Suffolk Dark Ale. Twelve Days by Hook Norton is probably my favourite in this style, though I am strangely limited in my knowledge here (given I love anything that is strong when it comes to beer), so whilst I may not be the best judge on the subject of an English Strong Ale, I will give it a red hot go.

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: Almost opaque cola, deep brown, body with a decent beige 1 centimetre head that sticks around for quite a while and leaves a sticky lace on the way down. Rather intimidating yet at the same time inviting brew we have here. 7/10.

S: Diacetyl off the charts – it’s like toffee had sex with butterscotch and had caramel babies right here! Hard to get past the amount of toffee/butterscotch/caramel in this aroma without my salivary glands activating (yes I love toffee, my teeth seem to hate it though). Not much else in this malt-heavy beer/style… I’m bracing my teeth as we speak. 8/10.

T: Totally not as sweet as expected, and all-round spot-on balanced with sweetness/herbal bitter note. Flavours are: Toffee, butterscotch, burnt caramel, earthy touch, tobacco leaf and slight woody note. Wow, that balance is on point – I suspect this has some age on it, it’s definitely had time to settle in. 8/10.

M: Mid to light bodied with a thin/UK pub carbonation, hey it works for this beer and many other English styles – I embrace it. Could use a bit more body. 6/10.

D: Glad I came across this one – it’s really given me an (albeit slight) English Bitter fix and rekindled memories of my own journey through Old Blighty [PS: Scotland rules!]. Will definitely pick this up again as I’m still trying to find places that have English styles in SE Queensland… any suggestions are most welcome. After moving back to Brissy from ‘Berra and having my local go from Plonk (i.e. the craziest huge selection of beer I’ve seen assembled in one building) to having a local that has a decent selection but seriously lacking in English beers… well I guess I miss them brews. TL:DR; Tasty brew this. 8/10.

Food match: Some sort of pheasant, roasted, with gravy, veggies and a Yorkie.

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Coopers Extra Strong Vintage Ale

Total Score: 7.6/10 Caramel1 DarkFruits1 Butter1 Nonicpint1

This is one I’ve been saving in my fridge for about 8 months – 2010 vintage [Yes you read that right – I actually own a time machine and 2010 is an exciting year that I often travel back to]. I had a fresh one when I got the 6 pack and put the other 5 to rest in the cooler and have gradually been picking them off over time.

Poured from a 375ml “stubbie” into a tulip pint glass.

A: The most immediate thing that strikes me is how murky and brown the body is, certainly would be difficult to shine a flashlight through it. The 1cm beige head slowly settled down to 0.5cm. 6/10.

S: An interesting combination of tart and sweet aromas – a touch of port and fig pudding with rhubarb. The alcohol is detectable in the smell and there is a hint of Diacetyl butteriness as well. 8/10.

T: Sitting in the fridge for 8 months certainly hasn’t changed the kick of flavour this brew has! There is a strong toffee malt front, followed by almost overbearing candied-plum flavour (which is where the ABV really kicks in), and ending with a tart dryness that compliments the overall experience quite well. 8/10.

M: Heavy, almost honey-like viscosity which makes it the last thing you should be drinking on a menu as it entirely dominates nearly any other competing flavours & textures. The carbonation is mid-low. 7/10.

D: It’s a big Ale, and it doesn’t bandy about the subject. There is quite a bit of alcohol in this drop and considering that fact it’s hidden rather well (tastes on strength par with Leffe Blonde). I would recommend it as a decent after dinner beer or with a heavy meal, but as far as sessioning goes this one should be the finale rather than something to start and continue with. One last thing to note: expect a fair bit of yeast at the bottom of the glass/bottle – if you’re not a fan of this (personally I think it adds character) you may want to decant it. 7/10.

Food match: Rich game meats like Venison or Kangaroo… in fact a grilled “roo” steak with roasted vegetables and a dark chocolate sauce would go down a treat with this.

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Lord Nelson Brewery Old Admiral

Total Score: 6.4/10 Malt1 DarkFruits1 Caramel1 Nonicpint1

Bought this a 6 months ago [this was about 3 years before now] in a six pack and was saving the last bottle for a review… also wondering if it would mature in the time it sat at the bottom of my fridge. It was in fact my very first beer cellaring experiment.

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a tulip pint.

A: Deep brown, like treated pine, body that had from the pour a tan head but after sitting for about 30 seconds reduced to absolutely nothing (this I’ve heard is common in Ales that have been cellared). 6/10.

S: Smells like a fruit pudding full of raisins. Not sure but it might be due to the cellaring because I don’t remember it having this fruit “slap in the face” when I originally drank it. It’s definitely gained a stronger scent nonetheless. 7/10.

T: Actually quite the opposite to what I was expecting: it’s lost a lot of its punch sitting at the bottom of my fridge. Last time I drank this when it was fresh and it was full of sharp acidic alcohol and bold resiny hops, but the hops have been killed in the cellaring and the alcohol is almost non-existent, tastes like a big glass of water now. The only thing left is the malt; burnt caramel with a hint of the fruit pudding. 7/10 (rated to how a fresh bottle would be rated).

M: Heavy-bodied with minimal carbonation – goes down even easier… 8/10.

D: Not sure how to rate this beer due to the change in character from cellaring. I think it tasted better before (although I remember the sharp alcohol astringency being a bugbear) with more flavour, so to give it justice I believe I should rate it as it was originally: a decent hard full-flavoured Ale… that happened to suffer badly from cellaring… in other words – do not cellar this [unless you know what you’re doing which clearly I didn’t]. 7/10.

Food match: Again I’m going off what the Ale was like when I first drank it: rich foods like roast lamb, beef, venison with heavy gravy’s and Lyonnaise potatoes with Yorkshire puddings and glazed carrots.

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