Having been racking my brain for a few weeks now as to what my first blog post could be: an opportunity arose with the arrival of a mixed case of twelve beers from The Waen Brewery in Wales. A brewery that I wasn’t even aware of 3 days ago, Waen’s blackberry stout featured on Pete Brown’s top 50 UK beers; so I went to investigate the website and (as is inevitably the case with sites that offer payment by PayPal) found myself leaving £24 lighter. At this point I feel I must point out that this worked out at £2 per beer, and no postage charge. Even better it arrived at my door within 24 hours, a book other places I’ve ordered from could take a leaf from.
So down to the beers. Five different beers of differing styles, including the aforementioned blackberry stout and their brand new summer special. A consistent branding theme runs across the bottles as you can see from the photos below and everything is bottle conditioned (hence leaving for 24 hours to alleviate the ardours of the Irish Sea!) I followed my usual rules of tasting lowest to highest ABV, though decided the blackberry stout may be more flavourful than festival gold so switched the order slightly. Some beers were definite winners in my opinion...see if you can spot which!
This is the new summer beer and very summery it is too. A clear amber colour reminiscent of the shandy it’s supposed to better and a flavoursome honey-ginger and perhaps some Turkish delight aroma escapes the glass. Lightly carbonated with a lemon shortbread body and bitter aftertaste, it would certainly be easy to knock back a few of these without much bother on a warm summer’s day.
Festival Gold 4.2%
One of the core beers, this one and a deep gold rather than the pale I had expected. A lot of malt character with tangerine on the nose and a residual digestive biscuit and slight Burtonisation in the after taste. Sweetness endures in the finish.
Blackberry Stout 3.8%
This is the one I’d been waiting to taste, dark ruby coloured with a lovely roasty and blackcurrant aroma and a hint of copper. Yes I know metal doesn’t smell and it’s probably some kind of oxide but humour me as I imagine it’s a remnant of the brewing process. Burnt toast is at the fore when I take the first sip followed by those long awaited blackberries and a dry bitter kick. Rounds off well with residual roasted malt and compost. As it will soon become apparent I love cheese, and imagine this would complement a white rinded cheese such as brie or camembert.
Janner’s Pride 4.6%
Another mid-amber ale with a hedgerow fruit and crumble topping aroma. Toffees and rich tea biscuits predominant in the taste this time with a vanilla finish. For a best bitter surprisingly has very little hop character or bitterness whatsoever with a long, sweet, lemony finish. This would match a white stilton (possibly with fruit).
Porter House Blue 6.1%
Finding this included in the crate excited me as I have never tried a blueberry beer before. A dark brown pint which smells exactly like a fresh brewed cup of coffee with freshly baked blueberry muffins followed by vanilla cheesecake. An initial blueberry hit in the taste is replaced by Weet-a-bix and vanilla finishing on a fruity dryness with some rolled oats. Although a dark beer with fruit this is noticeably different to the stout, not least on alcohol with this being 2.3 units its senior. It’s not really noticeable though and think this would qualify as “ruinously drinkable” TM if Zak Avery were to be reviewing it. Instead I’m going to refer to it as a pseudo session beer. Finishes with lovely porter roastiness and residual sweetness and a slight tease of alcohol. It was a struggle to stop myself from drinking the other bottle of this, but I’ve already promised to share it with my girlfriend.
So there you have it, blog number one done and dusted. I hope you enjoyed reading and that it inspires some of you out there to give the brewery a try.