To clear a bit of space for the haul, I thought I'd open a few from the last stash I picked up in October, aware that some of them wouldn't have been the freshest when I bought them. I recall being sorely disappointed that only one of the British Beer Competition winners was available, namely Scott's 1816 from Copper Dragon in Yorkshire. There was no sign of a date on the bottle so I figured I'd better get it into me quick, just to be safe.
This IPA pours a perfect, deep Lucozade orange. The head is of the big-bubbled real ale variety and disappears shortly after it arrives. I detected a touch of stale must on the aroma which confirmed that it was perhaps past its best. A sip revealed some simple but beautiful sticky toffee flavours followed up by quite a gentle hoppy tang. However, then the mustiness returned -- stale and woolly -- to upset the delicately balanced taste. And then I noticed the neck, where the date was written after all, in black ink, invisible against the dark beer before pouring. Turns out this is supposedly good for another eight months. Oh dear. I think perhaps 1816 is a delicate flower of an IPA which doesn't take to bottling at all, but needs to be served fresh from the cask, whence I'm sure it's superb. Still, with the lightness that comes of 4.4% ABV it didn't occupy my time and after just a few gulps I was back in the stash.
The next one was definitely knocking on a bit, with less than a week before it was due to reach pensionable age. It was bottle conditioned, however, making it more of an unknown quantity. Goldblade is a wheat beer from O'Hanlon's, a Devonshire brewery I still haven't made up my mind about. As one might expect, it's rather hazy. There's big bonus fizz and a thick head that stays put throughout -- not so much lacing as lining.
It's a close relation of Belgian wit, with lemons and coriander at the centre and a mild dry hoppiness. The aroma offers lemon sherbet and the texture is surprisingly smooth, given all that gas up top. What it lacks is legs: the fruit and spice just vanish after the first taste. At 4% ABV, this is a don't-think-just-drink quaffer. Not bad, but not great either.
I will definitely be looking for things heavier and darker when I land next at Sainsbury's.