Tasting Notes: Welcome As Your Are (British Strong Ale)

I needed a hit. Like a batter in a slump, or a down-on-their-luck band I needed a hit. I brewed two great beers over the summer, but those kegs are empty. I even used the last bit of Olde North Shore Ale to brine our Thanksgiving turkey. The big reason I needed a hit was that I had to dump thirteen gallons of beer and it was terrible.

To address the acetaldehyde issues that was affecting everything I brewed, I took my sanitation procedures back to square one and sanitized all of my glass and plastic equipment with a bleach solution. My first brewing kit came with the third edition of The Complete Joy of Homebrewing published back in 2003. Presumably the variety of sanitizing products available to homebrewers now were not as available back then so the book suggested using a bleach solution.

The beer pours copper with an off white head. The head is thin with fair retention. The beer does have a bit of haze, but nothing I’m concerned with. The aroma is malt forward with notes of graham cracker, fig, and a hint of toast.

The flavor is what really stands out to me. Up front is a very understated sweetness, like a the bottom of a sugar cookie that is more browned and lacking the sugar that is on the top of the cookie.  That leads to moderate flavors of jam and biscuit. The malt is just toasty enough along with the hop bitterness to give the beer a perfectly crisp finish. The medium hop flavor from the East Kent Golding provide elegant floral and currant notes throughout. Fermentation character is somewhat clean, with floral esters adding a bit more complexity.

The body is medium-full which is enhanced by the medium-low carbonation. The finish is perfectly crisp with just a twinge of hop flavor and bitterness lingering. It makes the drinker want another sip. When I first tapped the keg I ended up having three pints. The beer finished at 6.2% and is almost too drinkable.

I needed a hit and I think I have one. This feels like a beer that would do well in competition. With the holidays the competition calendar is understandably light. Maybe I’ll find a competition early next year and ship a couple of bottles. That of course assumes the keg will last that long.

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