Sunday, 11 September 2016

Beer Review: Daura Damm

Funny story. No, actually, I'm wrong, it's funny if you're me. I was in my local supermarket and saw a four pack of these on offer at half their original price. The reason? The cardboard holder was ripped. Seriously, I could, and can, find nothing else wrong with the bottles. I even checked to see if they'd been monkeyed with or shaken and could find nothing. Also, I had been wondering about this ale for a while as I do find myself drawn to gluten free ale - not because I need gluten free ale but because it seems like an interesting experiment and one worth chronicling.

My last sojourn down this particular alleyway was the peerless Against the Grain by Wold Top (you find the review here) but I still need to try Vagabond Pale Ale by Brewdog. In the meantime, and because they were on offer, I am trying Estrella's Daura Damm. Nice bottle, if I say so myself, and a windy and wild day couldn't stop me trying it in my garden. Though it did manage to stop me drinking it there because the Boy was insistent that we went to the park instead.

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The nose is made, as you'd rather expect having seen the photo, of flat and full malt, a musty affair that carries the weight of the yeast and not much else but with a surprising depth and warmth for something that is, essentially, just a standard lager. It does a good job of what it sets out to be, which is a standard lager without any wheat or gluten in it and I have to say that it is quite an astonishing feat that they have managed, even if lager is not my tipple of choice by any stretch of the imagination. It's not terribly complex but it is a decent stab at something interesting and the ma-hoo-sive head atop the thin straw yellow of the body, combined with masses of carbonation that is clearly added after the fact, does stake a claim about being, well, a standard lager. I can compare the aspect it cuts to that of the Kronenberg 1664 my father had when we were in London (see that review here) and say that this far surpasses it.

As you would expect from a lager, and a Spanish one at that, this opens taste with a wave of yeast that spears through the massive carbonation and thin malt that explodes and wraps all around the mouthparts as much as it can. This huge swell is then surfed past the mid-point and right to the back of the throat like a swirling mass of carbonation, thin malt and heavy carbonation, spume collecting in the gulleys and sea-life diving for cover in the rock pools as the water is sucked back for aanother go. Once it hits the back of the throat the work is taken over by the the 5.4% ABV and the lasting impression is of strong lager, as one would expect. In fact, this is a lot like lager.

I have to say that I remain unconvinced by lager and this does nothing to shake me from that position but it does do a grand job of delivering on its selling point - being gluten free lager that tastes exactly like lager that isn't gluten free. For people that need this kind of option (and I know a couple) this is a good lager that won't kill them, and that's got to be worth something. Against the Grain it ain't but it is a decent enough lager that remains gluten free. For me, in the wind and the heat, it did a decent enough job of following lunch and setting me up for an afternoon running about in the park with the Boy playing tig and then jogging around the cricket pitch, because he is mad, but I shan't be rushing to get more.

Best enjoyed if you find someone who is not an ale fan and who would die if they drank normal lager. Failing that, worth having around an evening meal or a lunchtime if a summer day and the weather is fine, you can stretch right up and you can touch the sky, then you can get some of these in and crack them open. Deceptively strong, true enough, but does a good job of basing the taste on that strength so that it becomes an integral part of the ale rather than something that is added on later and serves no purpose.


  1. "Have a drink have a drive (this line would get censored now), go out and see what you can find."
    I find I drink more and more lager as brewers in Britain have started to realise they actually need to be lager-ed. As an easy one to get hold of, I can recommend Frontier - Fullers pubs' keg lager. It's like drawing deeply on smoke & copper coins but still chilled & refreshing.

    1. Ah, you got the reference! Not seen much Fuller's round my way, will check it out next time I'm down London.