Thursday, 4 September 2014

Beer Review: Doom Bar

This one has been a long time in coming. I keep seeing the bottles in the shops and virtually every pub that has ales from the cask and claims of 'real ale' have this as one of their headliners. As a consequence I was quite chuffed to see it as part of a gift from Willow's parents. So, thank you.

It is, of course, Sharp's Doom Bar and the fact that I see it everywhere probably means that it's been reviewed pretty much everywhere. However, none of those people were me on a dark summer's evening, so there!

Would you like to know more?

First of all, the claim that it is an amber ale. The bottle is clear and the first impression I got was more of a ruby beer, putting me in mind, as it happens, of Late Red (link) from Shepherd Neame but that doesn't seem to mean much. Certainly, as it is chilled again, I was thinking that the carbonation may be suppressed and therefore the coloration will be different. Nevertheless, it poured well and the colour remained despite there being no head to speak of.

At 4.3% ABV it is very much within the usual range for a lightweight such as me to be drinking and the feeling of heaviness that oozed from it has no basis in the alcohol content, which is nice. The smell is mellow and fruity, putting me in mind of something like Victoria sponge cake or something involving icing and bread, maybe even a cheesecake that has been defrosting all day but is not yet ready to eat. There's no sharp hops, no zing of citrus, just a soft and yeasty sort of smell that speaks more of light fluffy cakes than beer. The first taste is similarly different from the usual on this blog, yeast pops in the bubbles and the malt is flatter and milder than some of the recent brews that have been reviewed. If anything there seems to be a lack of character, but the aftertaste that lingers is something to behold. There's a kick of yeast, not spicy but in the background, and a quality not unlike a cough sweet in terms of feel down the throat.

Basically, this is not so much about the taste and the adventure but about the return home and the uncomplicated act of relaxation. Nothing speaks of what activity was undertake but I can see this being something of a welcome home. A bit boring, especially given my memory of Dark Raven (link), but that;s sometimes what you need from an ale: familiarity and nothing too clever.

Enjoy this best, then, after a long and adventurous journey when you return to the homestead and need the steadying influence of homely things. It will ground you, tuck you in as you laze on the sofa, and remind you of what you missed while you were away. If you have a travelling cloak, take it off and dust it down; a pair of shoes, shake the dust off outside your door; a hat? Remove it and close your eyes with confidence. Sometimes you just need to be boring, as the Pet Shop Boys remind us.

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