Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Now Drinking: Roosters Honey and Citra (Exp #28)

God bless Roosters. They are such an iconic English brewery, and yet it sometimes seems to me that they are only known to relatively small section of the beer-drinking public. They have forever ploughed a lonely furrow through a field full of pale malt and new world hops. And when I say forever, I obviously don't mean forever, what I mean is a long time for a brewery that make such a singular style of beer - soft, pale and golden, with a pronounced hop character. They even make a brief appearance in Michael Jackson's Pocket Beer Book, 1997: "In Harrogate, the Rooster micro is noted for hoppy ales, sometimes varietal".

Roosters don't really bottle a lot of beer, so being a person who doesn't get to the pub as often as he'd like, I don't drink as much of their beer as I'd like to. Conversely, my pub drinking is disproportionately swayed in favour of Roosters. A quick pint in Leeds' Mr. Foleys the other night had to be Roosters. In fact, now I think of it, almost every trip to the pub that I've had this year has featured Roosters. There aren't many, but at least I'm consistent.

Happily, Roosters bottle a few bits and pieces - mostly experimental and private-brew beers. The latest beers to fall into my lap are this honey and Citra hop beer. Predictably pale and golden, the honey makes it's phenolic, softly floral presence known on the nose immediately. The hops are there, but they battle for space a bit with the honey. The honey and hop play a weird trick, in that they seem to push a lot of pale malt character into the aroma. It takes a while for the palate to calibrate to what is going on, but when it does, the characteristic slightly savoury (green-pepper?) and citrus note of Citra is there, sitting in with the dry, phenolic snap of fully-fermented honey. That faintly savoury character carries into the finish too.

Roosters are incapable of making bad beer, and I love the creative spirit that they've been showing lately. Their trademark style is all about the hop, and Citra is the hop of the moment. I just can't help but wonder what this beer would be like without the honey.


  1. Good to hear about Roosters. Friends have returned from the UK raving about them yet they dont seem to feature in the blogosphere much at all!

  2. I’m not a honey beer man, but have always loved Roosters, when Dorber ruled the roost(er) at the White Horse he always had one of Sean’s beers on regularly. I wonder if the lack of enthusiasm for bottling (and perhaps the brewery’s reluctance to shout the odds from the rooftops) has meant that they have remained a quiet influence.

  3. i love roosters, i really do, their outlaw arm also produces some awesome stuff...

  4. I shared one of my bottles last night with two friends and I enjoyed it. I liked it, the hop profile was pleasing and the floral aroma was insane I've never smelt anything quite like it before. Matt wanted more honey, but for a sessionable beer I thought you'd only need a touch more sweetness in fear of it would become hard work.

    I'm going to share the second bottle with family tomorrow night.

  5. I've always liked Roosters beer, but rarely get the chance to drink them. I would agree that they've been ploughing a lonely furrow for some time now, and for a very innovative brewery have been eclipsed by newcomers such as Brew Dog and Thornbridge.

    Hopefully your post will go some way to re-dressing the balance.

  6. Kieran - I'm not really sure why that is - they're certainly not a small brewery, but they seem to lurk just under the radar.

    Adrian - Sean is too modest, for sure. One the most intelligent and thoughtful brewers I've ever met (apart from any who read this blog regularly, of course!)

    Andy - yes, North in Leeds always have Outlaw Wild Mule on as their house ale. Very good too.

    Rob - I'm splitting one with Leeanne tonight - we'll see what the demon palate makes of it.

    Paul - I fear that it will do little to redress the balance, but it's a nice thought.


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