Sunday, 13 February 2011

All Beer Experience + Taster Case (Ales By Mail)

The noble enterprise Ales By Mail sent the All Beer Experience kit through the supply lines for a Bunker review session, and we were glad to oblige.

Retailing at £51.99, it's a veritable treasure trove of all things beery, with malt and hops sample kits, a very well presented book on the subject, a gift bag and fourteen rarely-seen ales, in lambic, ale and lager varieties.

Armed with the promise of a sausage and mash dinner interval, a few guitar tunes on the Station One ghetto blaster and the red-hot @thebeerbunker twitter wire, we set to work on the beers.

Here are the twit-friendly assessments from a thoroughly enjoyable evening, complete with Bunker Grading according to our subjective taste:

Meantime Pilsner 4.7%abv – Light floral smell, sweetcorn, wheaty. Nice light sweet grain in the finish, almost bready. Very dry bitter finish. 7/10

Freedom Organic Lager 4.8%abv – Lightly caramel lager, Ed judges some rich malt, Paul veers to slightly less depth. Lacks a bit of snap but finishes very tidily. 6/10

At this point we tucked into a couple of malt sachets which were generously supplied along with the ales. Crystal malt was first, beautiful agricultural bready sweetness. The chocolate malt followed, and visited upon the tongue a shotgun pellet scattering of bitterness. Barley grains next – “inedible” proffered Ed, I had to agree - but what a wonderful grain.

Pitfields N1 Wheat Beer 5%abv – Cor, bold experimental beer. Bags of orange and coriander . Just too acidic, it’s a bit like licking a battery. Not for us 4/10

Hopdaemon Green Daemon Helles 5% - Grassy nose, lovely bready sup – perfectly balanced , Greek democracy in a beer – 7/10

*** Evening Winner *** Dark Star Sunburst 4.8% - Wow! Smell that! Caramel paradise, sublime taste. Gorgeous, toffee and a twist of lemon - sublime 9/10

Kelham Island Pale Rider 5.2% - Toffee in spades, creamy and over-tipped in favour of malt, but a capable dry bitterness that does much to veer away from being over-sweet – 7/10

Samuel Adams Boston Lager 4.8% - No nose, chilled malty wonder on the tongue, class leading depth for an amber lager – 6/10

Westerham Scotney Best Bitter 4.3% - National Trust produced beer, Minimal fruity nose, big sweet malts, faintly spicy length. Nice example of standard best – 6/10

Exe Valley Devon Glory 4.7% - Rough and acidic, poor ale. Zero nose, Mulchy mid-section, tart honky finish – 3/10

Flying Dog Snake Dog IPA 7.1% - Piney desert-dry hop nose, bulky malt sweetness quarterback-sacked by monumental hop bitter - 8/10

Hopshackle Historic Porter 4.8%abv – Fresh and indeed hoppy in the nose, but mellow choc and coffee tastes on the sup stride through like sentries – 6/10

Orkney Brewery Dragonhead 4% - Sumptuous coffee-choc nose. Smart texture, creamy easy-drinking stout, dark beery fun 7/10

Chimay Blue 9% - Magnificent pepper raisin nose, malty & potent. Sup is fizzy & earthy with a soily oily cosh of alcohol – 6/10

It has to be reported that at that point the wheels came off the session somewhat, so we didn't quite get to the "Mort Subite Kriek" lambic beer, but we will make amends by giving it a full Bunker review shortly!

Thanks to Neil Rimmer, The Ormskirk Baron, Alex Barlow, Andy Mogg, myBrewerytap, James Bird, Paul Tuffnell, Gregg Irwin, Newcastle's Free Trade Inn and the mighty Dark Star brewery for keeping us company on the wires during the evening.

Final assessment is that this is probably the most interesting and varied ale tasting kit we've seen. Ales By Mail offer real quality in return for your dollars, an excellent service for gift-senders and enthusiasts alike. Follow them on Twitter here.

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