The fifth of the Aldi ales (and the second of those bought for me for Father's Day)! My daughter has a thing for dragons, it would appear, and liked the idea of pairing this with the Unicorn on Sunday (see here).
This one is from the oldest brewery in Wales that is still active, since 1878. Okay, that means that the ale isn't the oldest recipe I've tried, not by a long chalk, but it's still pretty venerable and I'm not going to complain about Wales and their breweries because Wales have dragons and if Game of Thrones has taught me anything it's that one shouldn't try to spice up exposition by showing semi-clad and nude women in the sh- no, wait, I mean: that dragons are to be respected and make terrible pets. And Wales has dragons. Two of them are on this bottle. Because it's Double Dragon by Felinfoel who are just outside of Llanelli. Alas, not near Pwllheli.
Hoffech chi wybod mwy?
Woody colour matches the aroma, being slightly toward the cherry end of the spectrum and definite 'of the woods' so to speak. At 4.2% ABV this is slightly stronger than many of those that I got in and, being amber, is considerably darker. This fits the current weather as I drink, where it is damp and dull but with less of the wind. It poured with a tiny but active head that rapidly went away again and left a deep woody pool of amber goodness. Willow straight away announced that this continued the trend of my ales being better quality of late (I have no idea against what) and pronounced that the aroma was woody and nutty with a hint of cherry. So, on this point we are of one accord.
Straight onto the taste and this is indeed smoother than the Surrey Nirvana (here) or Wizard (here), being almost syrupy in texture and far bigger in terms of depth of malt. There is a hit of hops but these are not the stars of the show and they mould with the malt and the yeast as it rolls in from outside the mouth. Actually, the mouthfeel is very much like a red wine, there's a certain strength of character there with the characteristic smoked feeling down deep after the mouthful has gone down and rests in the stomach. Certainly there's that nuttiness that you can always count on from a good amber and there's a bittering bridge to the back of the taste, where you're left with a strangely full and heavy aftertaste that is not at all unwelcome even if it is unexpected. Willow struggled to find synonyms for nutty and woody for the taste so, in essence, we are in agreement once more. She stated cherry again, and I can see that I suppose, but only on the tongue after the mouth is clear - the aftertaste is unsweetened cherry, but drier if such a thing is possible. The bottle claims toffee but I suspect that's more the consistency than the taste.
This is, actually, a very good amber ale. It reminds me more of the Late Red (here) in terms of quality and is a work-a-day ale that would go well in summer with a Ploughmans, not the first ale to be judged by me as being worthy of such august company. The bread would have to be torn and in a format of a big dollop of dough (depending on where you hail from that could be called by any name) and there would have to be pickle involved. Brown pickle, in sauce. This ale just keeps on going, never losing anything due to the aftertaste but nor does it build in interesting ways like some of the hoppier fayre I've had recently, yes, A-Hop-Alypse Now (here), I'm looking at you.
This is the sort of ale that will thrive in a summer lunchtime capacity. You'd have it with a big hat and floaty clothing in a beer garden with some salad and dressing. It's suppable rather than sessionable and it would leave you feeling nicely bouyant to return to work in the afternoon. Maybe it's manual labour in the fields, maybe it's sitting in an office and maybe you're driving a bus - in which case you can't drink at lunchtime and you'd be fired, stop that. Whatever your position, this is a lunchtime brew and works well at that.
Yes, I know I'm having it in an evening, shut up.