Caledonia Smooth's target profile is the 28 to 44 year-old who enjoys a pint, has a mature set of taste buds and will take something different in beers.Hey, that's me! Stephen Kent, Director of Marketing and On-Trade Sales at C&C's Bulmers Ltd is talking about me! And his firm has produced this beer especially for me. I have to say, I wasn't expecting that, and am slightly overwhelmed. Thanks guys!
I dropped into The Palace and ordered a pint -- because I enjoy those, as Stephen is well aware -- and before setting my mature set of taste buds to work noted the beautiful clear amber-gold colour of the foam-topped beer. It's 4% ABV too: a sessionable niche that's underserved in Ireland.
A sip. Pause. A mouthful. Pause. A big gulp. Pause. I'm reminded of Homer Simpson eating a rice cake: "Hello? Hello taste? Where are you?" This beer tastes of very little. Mr Kent is diddling my tastebuds and they don't like it.
On the plus side, I reflected, there's none of the horrible brown apple or sickly toffee that's so often the bane of nitrogenated red ales. Caledonia Smooth appears to be a localisation of Caledonia Best, a 3.2% ABV smooth bitter C&C produce in Glasgow for the Scottish market in an attempt to take on (and rip off) brand leader Belhaven Best. Read Barm's take on its launch last year for the full picture. So it seems they've diluted it a little less for the Irish market where beer normally begins at 4.2% ABV, renamed it, and spun some classically meaningless marketing puff about it being "triple hopped". Funnily enough, the same nonsense was peddled by Diageo for equally bland Toucan Brew back in 2006, but sure who in beer marketing can remember six years ago? You'd need to be, oh, at least 28 years old. Maybe even as ancient as 44.
But wait! Is that a flavour emerging from the depths at last? Is it the on-coming rush of triple hops? No, it's copper. There's a teeth-coating metallic twang that lingers behind after drinking this which evokes the taste of old green coinage. Well, "something different" was promised.
I'm not going to engage in amateur beer market analysis, except to offer my opinion that the people who might be willing to make this their beer of choice -- the pint drinkers in my age bracket with an interest beyond mainstream big-brand beers -- expect something more interesting in their glass than this.