Thursday, 23 July 2015

Beer Review: Honey Fayre

This was a gift to me from my daughter on Father's Day (yes, I am fully aware that this means drinking it so late means I am remiss in duties as a father) and a heart-felt one too. Both the children were picking them out with Anna down the shops for some time apparently, and both pronounced themselves most pleased with their choices because, and I must stress this, they felt that I would enjoy them. I thought I'd get the sentimentality out of the way first before getting down to the ale. The reasoning, by the by, for my daughter's choice was that I had bought some mead when we down at Oakfield Farm (of Nutbrook Brewery fame) and that had honey in it. This ale is Honey Fayre from Conwy Brewery so you can kind of see where she was going with this.

It's yet another chance to dive into the deep waters of strangeness and allure that surround the cold blue thought of my reviewing prowess. Or all the marking has finally turned my brain. Either way, would you like to know more?

After you've read the above introduction I'm sure that you can appreciate the fact that I was rather looking forward to trying this, though I accept that one can find it pretty much anywhere. And, on opening, there was little of anything to say different. There was the faintest whisp of carbonation from the bottle but nothing else and I poured it without sniffing the bottle so my first impressions were that it was honey red and poured without any head at all. There were bubbles, to be sure, but few in number and the top of the liquid looked a little odd as ales go without that froth from a head, I have to say, but still pretty inviting. If anything it did the job of putting me in mind of the sort of honey one finds in squeezy bottles, which is good or bad depending on your thoughts on honey I suppose.

Once liberated thus I got a whiff that was dominated by a combination of soft malt and bitter hops, a crisp edge to something that was almost bread-y and something that promised something of a citrus style quench of the thirst rather than the hop-heavy blast of a strong IPA (see 822 IPA here for that). Mind you, it boded well for the taste. The first impression of which, perhaps unsurprisingly, is honey that masks the 4.8% ABV - okay, not that strong, but enough to knock someone such as myself who, despite the evidence of this blog, is still something of a lightweight - that changes in the swilling to malt before unleashing a burst of citrus hops. I realise at this point that 'citrus hops' is woefully vague but there's nothing else that jumped out at me. I can say that they weren't New World hops and I can say that they carried something of the Goldings about them but, beyond that, I can't be specific. Then it was back to the honey, but barely and without the viscosity or sweetness that one may expect (think more the kind of mead you find in Morrison's - serviceable but without character), before reverting to the bitterness of the hops at the back of the throat for the aftertaste.

In the end this was a good serviceable ale, the sort that may play a role at a party or large gathering, as it was different enough from cheap lager to get some people who wouldn't drink beer normally to try it and sufficiently ale-like that you wouldn't turn your nose up at it if you drink ale. That said, as much as I know it was chosen with love, I shan't be rushing out to buy another. Anna pronounced it a little like Coke - in that it was fizzy and sweet. She may have a point here, I suspect that the fizz that there was in this brew was the real player in the flavour and the taste. And not in the awesome Brampton Speciale way either (see here, it's ace).

Yes, enjoy this in a party with lots of other people - hop heads and bitter drinkers and people who don't like beer - it's a step up from Criminales (though that may not say much, see this finely crafted link for a fuller explanation) - but not quite the sort of heavy hitter in beer to warrant much attention. A sweet background ale that will do much to keep conversation flowing either indoors in the colder months or out in the garden during sunnier days with warm air.

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