In its defence, the bottle of McEwan's Champion had been sitting around for a few months longer than recommended on the label. I'm putting the slight staleness down to that. For the rest there's no excuse other than execrable beer-making.
It looks fine: a very dark, almost opaque, red with a fairly loose fluffy head. The aroma is fairly sweet but is nothing compared to the taste: like mainlining golden syrup. At 7.3% ABV I knew I was in for something hefty, but I wasn't expecting such a foghorn blast of sugar. Mostly, it's the sticky, sickly and slightly musty syrup flavour I most associate with German bock. But there's a fruitiness to it as well, a sort of cherry liqueur / cough mixture thing. Not pleasant and very much at the tramp juice end of the beer spectrum, despite the colour.
They probably thought that some aggressive hopping would add balance, but they've just made it acrid and harder to drink. The finish is metallic which, when combined with the intense sweetness, makes it taste like an artificial sugar substitute.
A couple of times I felt like pouring it down the sink, but the thought that it might suddenly improve kept me going. It didn't happen. And at the end I found it had stuck my lips together.
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