Name – Organic Ale
Brewer – St Peter's
Classification – Well, how can I put this?... It's an Organic Ale.
Strength – 4.5% ABV
Verdict - At A Glance
On the eye – Elegant, understated straw. 'Eau natural.'
On the nose – Deep, rich fruit cake. Delightful.
On the tongue – Fresh, zesty and smooth, with a sharp, full-on bitterness.
On the subject – Suffolk based St Peter's combine a traditional ethos with a willingness to try something a little contemporary or quirky. They marry all these concepts pretty nicely with this beer.
On the market – Not the most widely available label of the range, but with the St Peter's brand becoming more ubiquitous by the second - the options are always growing. Those options are everywhere from supermarkets, specialist stores and online. Try the brewery's own web shop.
On the whole - 7/10
In the modern world of rampant consumerism, an ultimate definition for the word 'organic' can prove pretty tricky to agree on.
Aside from the issue of what the word actually means, there's the even hazier issue of what it implies.
For me at least, the sight of the word 'organic' implies freshness, authenticity, a distinct absence of extraneous chemicals and processes, and a distinct presence of overriding moral and ethical ideals.
Much of that sounds very lovely, but what 'organic' tells me almost nothing about - is the taste, type, and character of a beer. As a consequence, I tend to find the word a little bewildering and uninspiring when I see it written on any bottle's label.
However, it turns out that I've been getting my priorities in a muddle - because having sampled St Peter's 'Organic Ale' I was very swiftly reminded that 'freshness', 'authenticity' and 'a distinct absence of extraneous chemicals and processes' - when assembled together as a code of brewing practice - are pretty much guaranteed to result in the most marvellous of ales.
Ales like this one.
(You may have noticed that I omitted to mention any similar revelations regarding the other supposed benefit of 'organic' produce - the moral/ethical ingredient - but then I sense it's better to leave all of you hopelessly decent individuals to judge that aspect of 'organic' produce for yourselves.)
Just for the record, I'm not being flippant here. This beer really does feel fresh, it does feel authentic, it absolutely does feel unmolested by undesirable man-made potions, and in some small way (to lend some small credence to the issue of morality) it did leave me with an odd sense that I was 'doing the right thing.'
In spite of all this, though, I did find myself wondering what a claim of 'organic' status had required this beer to go without. This was chiefly because however fresh, authentic, or ethically sound the drink experience was - I couldn't help thinking that the brew could have done with a little extra 'something' to really allow it to fulfil it's vast potential.
But what did I think that missing 'something' was?
Was it a touch more of that delicious biscuit sweetness to help balance those magnificent grapefruit/peach hops?
I doubt it - it felt extremely well judged by the end.
Was it a need of a fraction more from those roasted nuts to better complement the delicately zesty hops?
Equally unlikely, for similar reasons.
Was the salty sharpness in the finish allowed too much room to dominate the lingering floral theme?
Not on your nelly! That was probably the highlight of the whole thing.
What was it then?
Well, finally, as I sank the last of the liquid from the glass (mournfully, I should add) I think I managed to work it out.
When a beer is so unrelentingly 'correct' in every sense - it crosses a line and becomes everything a beer should never be.
Saintly, straight-laced, prim and proper, conscientious - and perhaps even just a little bit sober.
In short - I think this ale could do with a dark side to really ignite it and bring it alive.
It needn't even be too dark, I'm really not talking about 'evil'. The merest of mischievous grins would be more than enough. Just something to remind us that, underneath all that glowing exterior of high standards and respectability - it's still just a little bit naughty.
Beer just doesn't feel quite right when it's trying to be angelic. It always needs at least a hint of the devil inside it. Otherwise it's just an extremely pleasant alcoholic soft drink.
Remarkable freshness and a fully-functioning moral compass are all very well, but I think I'd be just a little disappointed if all beers tried this hard to be this well behaved.
That said - this particular angel is welcome to keep watch over me for as long as it damn well pleases.