A recent haul of ales from across the border included a "sett" of Badger ales from Hall & Woodhouse in Dorset. This variety four-pack includes Tanglefoot, which I covered for the purposes of the brew zoo -- it's nice as far as it goes, but not a classic by any means. Tonight it's the turn of three more badgers.
I'm starting with First Gold, a double medallist in the ale category at the Brewing Industry International Awards in 2005. It's a beautiful red colour with a lasting creamy head. On the first sip there's a delicious caramelised sugar piquancy, but this unfortunately doesn't last long. The hops, which are intended to be the defining characteristic of the beer, show up next but in too few numbers. The bitterness is enough to kill the malt notes, but insufficient to make the beer genuinely interesting. Impressive for just 4% ABV, but that's about all I can say.
The opposite is true of Golden Champion: it's a full 5%, but tastes much lighter. That's not to say it isn't complex, however. It greets the nose with a gentle lavender perfume and follows it with a perfumey flavour, tempered with honey, which is striking and distinctive but not at all cloying. I'm not the greatest fan of England's golden ales, but this is how they ought to be done.
And so expectations were high on approach to Badger number 3: Golden Glory. I didn't read the label first (I never do) but I didn't need to have it in writing that this is made with peaches (peach blossom, actually), because there are peaches on the nose and peaches aplenty in the foretaste. Alas, like the First Gold, the immediate sweetness is rudely sat upon by a sharp and rather harsh bitterness that contributes little else to the flavour.
I'd come back to the Golden Champion on a summer's day, but the rest: meh.