When I went to open the bottle of Poacher's Choice I bought in Newry the other week, I suddenly recalled Leigh's comment about Badger beers tasting artificial. It's not something I'd noticed before, but here it was: on flipping the cap of this dark ale I got a strong whiff of sweet sugary flavourings. And on the first sip, the taste is sickly raspberryade, not the damsons and liquorice which are supposedly in here.
As far as redeeming features go, there does seem to be a passable sticky toffee malty beer at the base here, and the texture is full bodied, unfizzy and quite satisying. But I just can't get past that sweet artificial taste. Yes I know I said I wanted the volume turned up on unusual ingredients, but poor-quality beer can't be hidden behind fun adjuncts.
And speaking of poor-quality beer, a note on two others I encountered while in Newry, at a friend's wedding. I began my drinking career in Northern Ireland on Harp and Tennent's -- generally the only lagers available in the pubs of my youth. I was amused to see that the brewers have produced new versions of both, for those who find the taste of the usual lager too much to handle. Both Harp Ice and Tennents Ice taste of quite literally nothing. A shot of raspberryade would be an improvement, but I had moved on to Bloody Marys after just one swift pint of each.
And yet they say British beer is among the best in the world...