07 May 2009

Devoid of grace

I really shouldn't have poured it into a glass with a head-keeper, what with it being one of the fizzier bottle-conditioned English ales I've met. It was also a lot paler than I was expecting this spiced winter warmer from RCH to be. Pale Christmas beers are never any good in my experience, and Ale Mary -- a donation from Thom's CAMRA beer club delivery -- is unfortunately no exception.

The nose is very promising: packed with zingy ginger and oily cloves. But on tasting it all falls away, leaving a thin body with a kind of yeasty tang plus overtones of disinfectant. The sweet mince-pie spices reassert themselves on the lips at the end, but they fight against a horrible dry-throat sensation that just spoils the whole thing for me.

Ale Mary is remarkably similar to Franciscan Well's excellent Phúca, and is made from more-or-less the same stuff, but it just doesn't hit the same spot. I think it may be the lack of maple syrup, for that rounded and heavy base sweetness. And this is despite being a whole percentage point stronger than Phúca too. It's a shame: I'm a huge fan of spiced beers, and all this one will do is give them a bad reputation among the sceptics.

8 comments:

  1. I had a bottle of the Ale Mary at Christmas and was deeply disappointed if memory serves me correctly. Possibly that was because I had just polished off Durham Brewery's wonderful Benedictus - a revelation of a barleywine!

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  2. Hmmm... very unusual to hear of phuca, same ingredients, and crap beer in the same post, but you have pulled it off without insulting phuca at all, kudos. that beer doesn't look great and the name would put me off buying it, although the name thing might have something to do with me not liking gimmicky faux religious names like "monty pythons holy (gr)ail" didn't like it at all.

    cheers

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  3. So no Friar Weisse or Purgatory for you then?

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  4. The Bloody Tan3:03 p.m.

    Out of interest 'cos I've tried to get the beer club delivery how does Thom - living in Dublin - manage it when their website says they won't deliver outside the UK ?

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  5. He asked them. And they said OK, and gave him a discount.

    I bet he didn't even have to use that fake English accent of his.

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  6. That RCH old slug is magical though

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  7. Completely agree - I was really looking forward to my bottle of Ale Mary over xmas, only to find it horrfying, to be honest. Far too much cloviness (if that's a word).

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