Monday, 17 January 2011

Day 51, Beer 51 - Wadworth's "Old Timer"

Today's Beer

Name – Old Timer

Brewer – Wadworth

Classification – Strong Ale

Strength – 5.8% ABV

Verdict - At A Glance

On the eye – Deep, rich walnut.

On the nose – Elusive for it's strength. Faint traces of fresh straw and espresso.

On the tongue – Intensely ripened fruits, charcoal and deepest malts. Frenetic and potent.

On the subject – Wadworth & Company of Devizes in Wiltshire have a far wider range of beers than most people realise, and that's partly due to the huge success of their ubiquitous '6X'. But then, 6X is a beer with an 80 year heritage, whereas the beer they named Old Timer is a mere child in comparison – at just 49 years of age. (A '6X' review is coming soon!)

On the market – Further out of Wiltshire and the surrounding counties (where there is no problem at all) this one's a bit on the rare side. But worry not – the brewery's online shop is excellent.

On the whole7.5/10

Full Review

This is a powerhouse drink in almost every sense.

The force of that first sip leaves you in no doubt that this is a drink for grown ups. Not just grown up humans either – but grown up human beer drinkers. There's a difference, and this brew reminds you what that difference is.

I feel I should pause here and explain that this beer is a remarkable, perhaps even peerless example of a characterful strong ale. I feel that if I don't pause now to say this, it may begin to seem that I'm not a fan this drink, and I'm pretty certain that I am. I'm also semi-certain that this beer may be a classic. A representative of a lost art of strong beer creation which - as the last of its kind - really needs us all to pay it some serious attention.

But, I just can't be absolutely sure of all this.

Chiefly, my lack of certainty as to this beer's greatness stems from the sheer potency of its character. It is so unrelentingly intense that I feel just a little inclined to hold back on offering maximum high praise, just in case I'm unwittingly allowing this beer to force such a judgement out of me. 

You see, I suspect this ale might be a bit of a bully... and I find myself wanting to keep a very close eye on it.

Not that keeping a close eye on it is entirely devoid of benefits, because there are many good things to discover.

As the label suggests, it is strong, and the word 'strength' applies to everything here. The deep red hue is strong, the char-grilled fruity flavour is strong, the alcohols amid the flavours are strong, and even the two Shire horses on the label look to be well above average in strength. There really is nothing that this beer does weakly.

But does that necessarily make it a bully? Well, perhaps not... but I'd hate to be the guy telling this beer I didn't like the look on it's face.

And, just maybe, this fearsome quality might explain why this very good beer isn't more widely known – as it arguably should be. The fact is, I can see how it might be a little bit full-on for some drinkers. But for those who aren't intimidated by beers with sackfuls of character, they'll quickly discover that this beer is actually not a bully at all.

Not only will it not hurt you - but it might just wind up becoming an old friend.

I certainly grew very fond of it by the end.

I said before that this beer might be a classic of its kind – I reckon I'm going to stick with that assessment.

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