Shepherd Neame time again. I'd actually been holding off on boring you with yet another one of these, planning to build up a few more bottles and publish in one big batch. That would have been merciful. I'd had these two in sensory deprivation since March, but no new ones have arrived since, and then Thom wrote about how one of them was quite drinkable. That piqued my curiosity enough for me to fetch them into the light. So here they are:
Up and Under was produced for the Six Nations. It's a brown bitter, 4% ABV as all these Shep specials are. The aroma was slightly lightstruck, but not too bad. On the taste we're in very familiar territory: there's a sugary sweetness I've come to associate with this series, and a rising wateriness at the end. The milk chocolate malt aspect I've definitely met before, in a more terrifying aspect, in the woeful Tapping the Admiral. Here it's manageable. The slightly whiffy hops float about the aftertaste as well, creating a bit of a bum note, but not a jarring one. On balance, if there was nothing else in the pub, I think I could drink a couple of pints of this and not feel too hard done by, though I won't go so far as to say my €1.49 in Lidl was well spent.
On to the Double Stout, then. Drinking through the very impressive head I can see where Thom was getting the roast and vanilla notes from, I got quite a bit of caramel as well, with a long bitter finish in place of the dryness I was expecting. The roast is more in the rich and meaty category than burnt and grainy. It's nearly a very good beer and great value for money. Except... through it all I'm still getting that niggling wateriness and odd flashes of skunk. I'd be interested to find out if I could identify this as a Shepherd Neame stout in a blind tasting, but I feel I could. So while it may be dolled up as a stout -- trying a bit too hard with the paddywhackery label, may I add -- deep down this is just another one of those Shepherd Neame ales that Lidl sells.
With two months of quiet, could this be the end of the Brewmaster's Choice series at Lidl? A rest would be nice.