Tonight, Bob, I'm going to be drinking Old Thumper.
The last time I had this ale was in Daventry, visiting my father, and I had it on tap in his local while we were having a meal. I ended up having two pints and learned that it was a local celebrity. This was on the strength of having had the beer before in bottled form, but this was long before I started reviewing beers. Enough history.
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It comes in a brown bottle, always a good sign, and it weighs in at around 5.6% ABV, meaning that it's a one off for lightweights such as myself. On opening there is a crisp noise of escaping CO2 and a fairly strong malty aroma. There is a spice of hops to it but I could discern no more than that. The first mouthful is good, a strong hoppy nose and a good slab of malt beneath it all carried by the fizz to the top of the mouth. It swills nicely on the tongue and then leaves a warm glow as it goes down. This is bitter, in a good sense, and for something from the Midlands it does a good job of behaving like it's from the north. There's a roughness to it, a feeling that it would wear denim out of season, drop its 'h's and pronounce its 't's while talking about the days when awl this were fields. Second mouthful and beyond there is less of that northern flavour but it still lurks at the edge of your tastebuds, waiting to mug you if you're not careful. No, it's not grim up north, but it knows that, really, it has no idea what it's like.
There is a creamy side too, as you drink the whole thing becomes more smooth - as if it builds up a wall of cream as you sup it slowly. For this reason it would be a good accompaniment to spicy foods like curries and Thai. It is probably this quality that puts me in mind of something like Black Sheep ales come to think of it. On tap it is definitely a creamier beer than out of the bottle. The colour is clearer and the taste is sharper from the bottle, but I see these as good things. The fizz is not unpleasant in the bottle but I get the feeling they've tried too hard to recreate the head from a proper pulled pint, which means that there is an impressive head when it's poured but also that it out-fizzes itself as time goes on. This is still a very good ale but it doesn't bear too much repetition.
Drink in moderation and with strong flavoured food to get the best from this. Spend a day out in the countryside walking briskly in cold weather - feel the rain on your face and the ice forming on your beard - and then get home in front of a log fire and pretend you're a Yorkshireman: complain about the snow and how it wur awllus better when you wur young. Say "aye" rather than yes and hide the pottery from Stafford from the people you bring home. Nutty and brown, like a much loved grandfather, and strong and hoppy. What more is needed?