Name – Admiral's Reserve
Brewer – Woodforde's
Classification – Premium ale
Strength – 5% ABV
Verdict - At A Glance
On the eye – Lustrous golden brown.
On the nose – Cocoa butter, treacle and spiced apple.
On the tongue – Robust, intricate ale with a strong 'cask' feel.
On the subject – Norfolk based Woodforde's are responsible for my most fondly remembered beer-consuming week. The 'Wherry' at the Hunny Bell pub in the village of Hunworth was legendary back in the summer of 2006. In fact, the words 'Woodfordes' and 'legendary' have become synonymous in that part of England.
On the market – Not the easiest ale in the world to find. But worry not – just deal with the brewery direct.
On the whole – 8/10
On the whole – 8/10
This is very distinctive , and in so many ways.
There's a simultaneous bolt of honeyed sweetness and a potent, all pervading bitterness which usually only comes from maximum strength spirits.
Vodka, in fact, sprang suddenly to mind. Not in terms of taste – but in terms of the delivery of taste.
It's a fascinating, mind bending experience.
Also worthy of mention, is the fact that, of all the ales I've sampled during this project so far – this was the one that most felt that it had come from a cask. Those 'cask characteristics' are not things which I usually find 'lacking' in bottled beer – as you really have to deal with cask and bottled beer as entirely separate beasts and avoid getting bogged down with comparisons.
All the same, the cask-like feel of this drink was striking – and really rather lovely.
It's not just in the body that it felt 'pub served' but also in the immediacy of the flavours. The hops zinged with a new purpose, and the lower tones from the malts interacted with those shaper notes in a new way.
I'm using the word 'new' in place of the word 'better' because I'm one of those oddballs who still believe that 'cask' beer is not always 'better' beer. But perhaps I should add that – in this case at least – I did find that cask characteristic highly appealing.
To round off this extremely agreeable drink experience, there's something of the sea in the finish – a welcome salty swathe to complemnent the firmly pitched sweet base – and I reckon that the 'Admiral' referred to in the beer's name (a certain Admiral Nelson, I've little doubt) would have enjoyed this brew enormously.
Just as I did.