Thursday, 13 January 2011

Day 48, Beer 48 - Robinsons "Unicorn"

Today's Beer

Name – Unicorn

Brewer – Robinsons

Classification – Premium Ale

Strength – 4.3% ABV

Verdict - At A Glance

On the eye – Rich, light amber. Curiously eye-catching bubbles...

On the nose – A nicely hopped, top end zing. Faint but fulsome malts.

On the tongue – Pretty much everything you'd want from a premium ale – and yet...

On the subject – This brewery's next landmark birthday will be its 200th (albeit in another 27 or so years) so they pretty much know what they're doing. This beer, though, has not plodded what you'd call the 'usual' path.

On the market – This mythical horse came direct from the brewery. Larger stockists include Tesco and Sainsbury's.

On the whole7.5/10

Full Review

The next thing I knew, was that it was almost empty...

My glass, that is.

A good thing, then, that I had a second bottle nearby.

The 'emergency' bottle is what I like to call the spare one, and the emergency in this case was 'severe drainage of the previous.'

It should now be clear that today's beer is supremely drinkable. There's no problems in that department. It is definitely a brew which gets you reaching repeatedly and with some regularity for another mouthful.

This is nearly always the sign of an excellent beer... but what was that nagging doubt I had in the back of my mind?

Well, first let me deal with the easy bit and say something about what gets you reaching so often for more.

The dominant (and extremely delicious) hop-based sharpness is made even more wonderful by the most exquisitely delicate nut finish, which is so playful in its delicacy that sometimes it chooses not to appear. It becomes almost like a game of nut peek-a-boo, during which this flavour only pops its head out when it is most likely to be surprising and amusing.

It's very entertaining.

The body is lovely – firm but light – and the aroma is zingy, lively and inviting.

In a sense, this beer is all good.

But what about that nagging doubt I'd been feeling?

Well, the doubt first began to nag when I introduced the beer to the glass. There was a certain hyperactivity to the pour, which produced a large and uneven head, and ultimately enforced a three stage fill.

No real disaster there, but then I noticed that the individual bubbles within the head where pretty huge, and the bubbles rising from the base were of a similarly large scale.

Now, it turns out that this beer was actually purpose-brewed for bottles, and I reckon this might have some bearing on the nature and behaviour of the gas.

Of course, you might expect me – of all people – to be delighted that a brewery of Robinson's stature and quality was creating ales specifically for bottled usage... but the great irony is, that I'm not so sure this beer has benefited from this approach.

I sense that this beer would love to take an extended holiday in the land of 'cask' for a while, where I suspect it might find itself relaxing, taking deep breaths and maybe learning a few things about itself.

Upon returning from that holiday and getting back into the bottle, refreshed, revitalised and refocussed, I reckon this beer might then become utterly formidable.

Whereas, in its current condition, it is merely excellent.


Curmudgeon said...

This is a beer from my local family brewery which I'm quite familiar with. The main difference from the cask version is that the hop rate has been increased, as hops need to "shout" more in bottled beers. It's also marginally stronger, at 4.3% as opposed to 4.2%. Cask Unicorn is a very good beer when well kept, but I suspect in bottle it would come across as a bit underwhelming.

The Hearty Goodfellow said...

Nice to hear from you - I wondered if this Stockport brand might catch your eye!

Without trying to sound like a beer blogger - the beer in question here is Unicorn Premium Ale, brewed exclusively and only for bottles, and an entirely separate beast from Unicorn Best Bitter, which comes in the casks.

I reckon you know more about Robinsons ales than I will ever do, but this distinction comes from the brewery itself who, if only for mysterious corporate reasons, insist that both beers are quite unique.

That said, I'm sure the only real differences between them are merely those which you describe. Those and the bubbles, I suspect!

Perhaps John will set us straight...