Tonight is a slow night and so I'm taking a more leisurely and languid approach to the whole review thang, y'know? So, yeah, tonight's choice is the lovely Marston's Pedigree that uses, according to the label, the purest water from the Burton. Other water has to be Burtonised, you see, but they get theirs from the Burton itself. Having brewed myself now, I'm not at all certain what difference the water would make to the taste as it tends to be overrun by the hops and the yeast and the malt but who am I to argue?
Would you like to know more?
Way back in September last year I was able to try this from tap in a lovely establishment in Ashbourne, of all places, and in the company of a couple of friends from Sixth Form and their lovely child. It was a lovely (that word again) sunny evening and quite warm and the pint was surprising in that it was both thirst-quenching (I know, I thought beer didn't do that until that point) and yet strangely warming against sudden eddies of breeze and whatnot. Thus the bottled version has a lot to live up to!
Definite hops on the nose of this one, difficult to place exactly, but there's a slight edge of citrus against the warmth of the malt and slight spice from what I assume is the yeast. Taste is similar, a warm malt underlies some spice at the beginning, rolling over the tongue like a wave before the aftertaste and the bittering takes over. Not a stark bitterness, no, more the kind that leaves you quenched and ready for more. There's a mulchiness to this, like sticking your hands into compost and making it fall through your fingers, the kind of feeling that makes one feel lucky to live on this isle of black loam. Earthy flavours are always on the cusp of being realised without ever coming entirely to the fore and it sits on the stomach like ale should. A meal of roast chicken beforehand was good preparation for this is an ale to be had with a big meal. At 4.5% ABV it's very much a drinker's brew and very nice.
Ah yes, almost forgot about colour. Deep and rich brown. Not at all pale. Don't know what that means in beer terms but it tastes very much like the sort of pales I enjoy. So, despite the almost autumnal tinge to the colour, you can rest assured that it does what it needs to in the crowd of pales that I have enjoyed. Bear in mind that the Dark IPA (here) from last week also claimed to be pale and was, in fact, very dark. So, colour is nothing to do with it, taste is definitely pale.
Where does that leave the boast about the water? Difficult to say. There were hops throughout, most pleasing, and a nice aroma. Not a patch on the real aromatic stuff that I've had in the past like my own brew, come to think of it, or the stuff from Thornbridge but a pleasant enough taste that puts me in mind of Against the Grain (here) and even, more recently, Old Intentional (here). But, overall, warmer than the latter and smaller than the former. It has similar tones to Best Bitter (here) which was lovely and organic and yet this is not organic.
In short, enjoy this with a Sunday roast so that there is plenty to talk about and eat. Drench that meat in gravy, stack up a glass of red to go with it and alternate between the two. You won't be disappointed! As on tap, this is much nicer than it has any business being, being a mass produced and readily available bottled ale, and is usually rather reasonably priced. It can stand a bit of sessioning and probably goes well after working in the garden in the soil. In that regard best at Harvest time or in the early sowing season.