Name - Old Boy
Brewer - Oldershaw - http://www.oldershawbrewery.com/
Classification - Premium Ale
Strength – 4.8% ABV
Verdict - At A Glance
On the eye – Deep oak, with a bronze translucence.
On the nose – Delightful! Old coins and leather with a hint of treacle.
On the tongue – More of the same! Bitter sharpness underscored with rewarding warmth.
On the subject – A young, ambitious Grantham based brewery with an ever extending list of award winning ales. A fine example of what a dream and a well used redundancy pay-off can ultimately achieve.
On the whole – 7/10
Let's start with the positives.
Now, you all know what that opening remark implies and yes - I do have a gripe - but the fact of the matter is that this ale simply demands that I deliver the good news up front.
The good news is – he might be an Old Boy, but he's also a Very Good Boy.
Oldershaw's brewery was established in the Grantham area of Lincolnshire in 1998, shortly after founder Gary Oldershaw lost his job at BT. In short, Gary risked his redundancy packet by spending most of it on a dream - and the rest is history.
Since it's inception, the small outfit has gone from strength to strength, winning numerous awards from both CAMRA (The Campaign For Real Ale) and SIBA (The Society of Independent Brewers).
The reason for it's success was in evidence in my bottle of Old Boy. It's a perfect name for this drink. This is an evocative ale, which plays tricks on your memory banks, conjuring up images of memories too far distant to be your own. After a couple of sips, I felt like I'd slid effortlessly back to at least the Edwardian or Victorian era. The coins in my pocket were now farthings, my v-neck sweater was now a smoky tweed jacket, and the kids playing in the street were all foundlings I'd recently rescued from the local workhouse.
It seems that the very concept of Nicely Old Fashioned can be bottled, and I've just savoured every last drop of one the results.
To say that I recommend it would be an understatement, but, as I mentioned earlier, this was not a wholly satisfying experience. The issue I need to raise takes me back to my previous entry on this blog, when I referred to the ongoing debate surrounding 'bottle-conditioned' beers.
Let me introduce three facts into that debate.
1. Nobody likes to waste beer.
2. Most people like their beer to have a decent 'head' after it has been poured.
3. Bottled conditioned beers have to be poured slowly, making the production of any 'head' unlikely, and because of the sediment you always have to let some beer remain forever in the bottle, in other words – you have to let some beer go to waste.
I wanted my Old Boy to have a nice, inviting frothy top, and I was unwilling to let much of it go down the drain. My pouring was done with reasonable care, and I'd waited several hours before even daring to pour, but the result was still a glass full of gloopy yeast which was merely accompanied by some very lovely beer.
I'd love to know what people think about this. Because, if I'm perfectly honest, I think it's beginning to get me down.
(UPDATE - August/2011 - After more than 100 further beer reviews, I reviewed Old Boy again as part of an experiment to see how much my taste in beer had evolved. Check out that new review here.)