Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Now Tasting: Mystery Beer (Sharps)

I don't know exactly what this bottle is. It came from a mixed case that Stuart Howe at Sharps sent me ages ago. It's not one of his current "52 Brews" series (I still have them to taste/drink and write up), but I thought I'd give this a go.

Pin bright, copper-gold in colour, with a slightly wild note to the nose - I don't think it's infected, but it might be the aroma of a load of hops ageing disgracefully. Busy carbonation, quite dry, slightly dirty orange squash and toffee finish. Maybe a hint of beeswax? Aftertaste has a suggestion of Orval about it - again, I think it might be hop-related rather than anything else. This has been knocking around for a couple of years, in pretty good cellar conditions, and what has emerged is deep, slightly sherried, and enjoyably complex.

I think I just remembered that the B stands for Bobek - so this might be one of Stuart's prototype barleywines, hopped with Bobek. Maybe he'll remind me.

I played a variant of this game at work the other day. I got my co-worker Will to pour me a mystery beer, and I tried to identify it. I got that it was dark Belgian ale, about 8%abv, but couldn't nail it. It turned out to be Corsendonk Noel, which pleased me as I didn't immediately think "GAH! Of course it is!" - I remember Corsendonk Noel as being a bit more chocolatey, whereas this was more plummy and spicy. If you want to sharpen your tasting skills, this is a fun way to do it. And of course, a fun way to spend a few minutes at work (although may not be totally appropriate should you drive a vehicle or perform surgery for a living).

Right, that's it for now. I'm off for a couple of days in Ceske Budejovice as a guest of Budvar, along with a posse (a tankard? a round?) of half a dozen other beer writers. I hope to come back on Friday slightly fatter, but much happier.


  1. Good to hear that you have cared for B so well Zak. I'll have to pop down the brewery cellar in the morning and have a go on a reference sample. Enjoy the beer and the writers!

  2. We have an event here called Beer Options which is the final event in our tasting programe each year. People form teams are served beers blind and have to answer multiple choice questions on the beer, with the last question usually being what beer is this ? its alot of fun.


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