24 May 2012

Never pass a beer with your name on it

That's my reason for picking up this bottle of Harrington's Big John. The label makes a suspicious comment about it being "brewed with a hint of Bourbon" which doesn't sound too appetising to me, but leaving it on the shelf wasn't an option.

It poured quite thickly but with lots of fizz too, the head settling an uneven ivory over a dark brown body, looking for all the world like an Irish coffee. There's not much going on in the aroma, which I find slightly strange for something so heavy and fizzy and with all of 6.5% ABV: maybe just a dry woody hint of fino.

The flavour is a bit on the understated side too. Dark chocolate is at the centre, surrounded by vinous notes that remind me more of a blousy Spanish red than any of Kentucky's finest. The finish is suddenly dry leaving lingering overtones of fusty wood; the mild funk of charity shop furniture.

Where Big John really shines, however, is in the texture. It's pillowy soft and provides a creamy comforting warmth. Flavouring a beer with whiskey, or anything else, can be a very easy way of making it undrinkable. Here, however, Harrington's have started with a beer solid enough to survive what has been thrown at it.

Good man, John.


  1. What beer names are best avoided? I reckon PlaceName BizarreFoodFtuff BeerType served in a pack of four different BeerType are best avoided.

    BTW sorry I deleted earlier version blogspot ate words I had tried to show were placeholders of a type.

  2. Dublin Coddle IPA
    Cork Drisheen Porter
    London Jellied-Eel Lager.

    I have to say, I'm loving this.

  3. I have to admit id try all of those. Especially if there was an eel in the London Lager.

    I meant those "Autres Edelweiss Ale" tourist traps I always buy

  4. Ahh, you mean the continental equivalent of Boak and Bailey's gift shop beer.

  5. We once wrote a script to auto-generate middle-class London shop names in the format The [LOCATION] [QUALITY DESCRIPTOR] [PRODUCT] [BUSINESS TYPE], e.g.

    The Ladbroke Grove Fine Sausage Company
    The Notting Hill Gourmet Soap Collective
    The Walthamstow Bespoke Marmalade Shop
    The West Ealing Luxury Pie Emporium
    And so on.

    (Has this comment thread officially gone off on a tangent, now?)