Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Day 85, Beer 85 - Worthington's "White Shield"

Today's Beer

Name - White Shield

Brewer - Worthington

Classification - India Pale Ale

Strength - 5.6% ABV

Verdict - At A Glance

On the eye - Deep tangerine. North African dawn. Lovely.

On the nose - Syrupy, chip shop malts. Tantalising hop presence. The faintest wafts of liquorice and treacle.

On the tongue - A glittering example of an English Ale . Sharp, bitter, with subtle but dazzling complexity.

On the subject - No surviving IPA has been around longer. Long before its relatively recent 'relaunch', this beer had already been around for almost 200 years. It's nearly always found in bottled form these days, with only rare appearances in casks.

On the market - Quite bafflingly elusive, considering its unparalleled heritage and its epic status within the industry. Although, there's nothing quite like cult status, and that can demand a certain level of calculated elusiveness. Try online at Ocado.

On the whole - 9/10

Full Review

Beware the ale whose mighty reputation strides before it.

I had to approach this beer with caution, simply because it is among the most venerated English ales in history.

Because of this fact, I knew the chances of it being manifestly awful were pretty slim, to say the least. But what were the chances of it being manifestly fabulous?

Well, after the first mouthful had me rolling my eyes and giggling like a child - it seemed the chances were extremely high.

There is no point wasting any more time - this is absolutely top-drawer stuff, and easily one of the most refined and perfectly balanced ales I've yet come across.

The perfection of that balance does not involve it being poised exactly in the middle of the malt/hop scale - indeed it is a far more highly hopped brew than I'd been expecting - but the relationship between these two extremes of the flavour spectrum is exquisitely judged and it is in that judgement that the perfection lies.

Super dry, subtly biscuity, and mesmerically infused with tropical fruits and wildflowers - I'd say this is probably the beer I would give to a visiting alien to represent all others.

In spite of it having been around longer than any other IPA currently available in the world, there's something inescapably 'now' about the recipe, and it could easily be mistaken for a recent offering from one of our more 'trendy' modern outfits.

It's a little too gassy in the glass to be my very favourite bottled beer, but the bottle-conditioning is among the best on the market, resulting in an effortlessly clear pour with no need whatsoever for tears or tantrums.

This, famously, is the beer that single-handedly saved one of England's most celebrated breweries from extinction.

I'd say that's actually a relatively modest achievement for a beer of this monumentally high quality.

An ale this good could save the world.

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