Thursday, 24 March 2011

Day 74, Beer 74 - Badger's "Fursty Ferret"

Today's Beer

Name - Fursty Ferret

Brewer - Badger

Classification - Amber ale

Strength - 4.4% ABV

Verdict - At A Glance

On the eye - Bronze meets copper in a dark alley for a fistfight which, mercifully, ends in a draw.

On the nose - Granary loaf oats and seeds. Faint straw. Rather yummy.

On the tongue - Traditional malt-led ale, elegantly executed.

On the subject - A seasonal beer in cask form, Badger have taken this ale from very humble beginnings in a tiny brew pub and made it one of the best selling bottled beers in Britain.

On the market - Very well stocked nationally in the UK. Supermarkets have long since signed up to this beer's considerable fan club. Badger's online store is there for those so inclined.

On the whole - 8/10

Full Review

For the first time (or should that be the 'furst' time?) here on The Bottled Beer Year, I have just reviewed two beers back-to-back which share an overwhelming array of similar qualities.

In fact, I've little doubt that an absolute newcomer to the gloriously nuanced world of ale would name them as the same drink in a blind tasting.

But even I (who now barely recalls ever being a newcomer) find myself having to admit that my most recently reviewed brew prior to this - Belhaven's Robert Burns - and today's beer - Badger's Fursty Ferret - really are quite alarmingly similar drink experiences.

But therein lies a lesson to any folk who might still be subscribing to the unfortunate preconception that 'all ales taste the same'. After featuring nearly 80 brews during this project - for two similar beers to crop up on only one consecutive occasion must say something about the sheer variety on offer in the modern world of finely crafted ale.

And a 'finely crafted ale' is certainly what Badger have here with their delightful Fursty Ferret.

But for all it's similarity to Belhaven's previously mentioned Scottish interpretation, there are just enough subtle differences at work here to set this drink apart.

The sweet malts are in excellent form, but there's a shade more bitterness in this recipe, resulting in an overall experience which feels a shade more mindful of balance and flavour-contrast than many of the other 'big malt' ales.

Badger - being the great lovers of floral and fruit themes that they always have been - have integrated soft twangs of rosewater, apricot and orange into the mix which, again, add a certain sharpness to delicately counter that sweetness which might otherwise be too syrupy and rich.

This is a full bodied ale - not in the same way that many of the new wave beers are full bodied, with their hyper-dense, velvet textures - but in the classic sense, that feels substantial in the mouth whilst still feeling more like a liquid than a solid.

And perhaps that's the trick of this beer - it wears tradition like a badge of pride, and no brewery could be more proud of a traditional beer created with this degree of skill and care.

It might not be massively 'trendy' in the current beer climate - which is in danger of becoming nothing more than a high-jump contest for ever more exotic hops, who compete purely and simply to induce our tongues to protrude ever further outward from our skulls - but I'm deeply grateful for beers like this which quietly continue to do their own thing, in spite of the clamour of the crowd.

This is a pretty damn tasty ale.

Let that be enough.

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