Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Day 89, Beer 89 - Tring's "Side Pocket For A Toad"

Today's Beer

Name - Side Pocket For A Toad

Brewer - Tring

Classification - Premium amber ale (As distinct from the 'session ale' cask version)

Strength - 4.5% ABV

Verdict - At A Glance

On the eye - Orange amber. Particularly 'fruity' looking.

On the nose - Zingy gooseberry hops, subtle biscuit malts.

On the tongue - An adeptly brewed citrus-heavy dry beer. A bit different. A bit special.

On the subject - Named after the Hertfordshire market town where the brewery was founded in 1992, this firm has been on a quiet march toward market dominance ever since. On this evidence, I'd say it's time to make that march a great deal louder.

On the market - By no means everywhere. In a fair world, it would be. Try online at My Brewery Tap.

On the whole - 8.5/10

Full Review

What's the real difference between a shock and a surprise?

Is it that one is essentially good and one essentially bad? Or is one simply a more extreme version of the other?

Well, whatever the differences, I'd say this beer is probably both. A 'surprisingly' sophisticated and complexly flavoured brew from a 'shockingly' unheralded brewery.

Tring is quite clearly a hive of richly creative industry.

Aside from the branding of this ale - which I wouldn't miss if they ditched it instantly and entirely - this is a beer worthy of serious national recognition.

Stylistically, it falls somewhere between a bitter and a golden ale - with all the citric and floral sharpness of a 'gold', but with all the full bodied hop dryness and firm malts of a jolly decent bitter.

That malt presence is understated and not at all sweet - bringing it nicely in line with the current fashion for intricate, highly hopped beers - which is another reason why a bit of rebranding might do this drink the power of good. The label suggests 'novelty ale', whereas the reality is a far more chic and refined premium beer. (The label is also somewhat confusing - it's really quite tricky to work out what the drink is actually called. You also have to turn the bottle fully around to discover who brewed it! A truly bizarre act of anti-self-promotion!)

Anyway, to hell with the branding - the most important thing is that this is a properly first class English beer, with a sense of superiority that punches far above it's micro-brewery weight.

A vivid, elegant, nuanced ale, with a very persuasive citrus kick, a thirst-annihilating crispness, and with a broad enough appeal to satisfy all lovers of fine ale.

Look beyond that label and buy one.

Just do it.

You'll either be shocked, surprised, or both.


Ghost Drinker said...

It's a fantastic beer. Ghost Girlfriend lives right next to the brewery, so I often buy a pin while I'm down there. Do look out for their 'Death or Glory' barley wine - it's Awesome!!

The Hearty Goodfellow said...

Ghost - The pin is no doubt the 3.6% ABV session version. Or the 'normal' version if you're approaching it from that perspective. At almost a full percentage stronger - this bottled rendition sounds a very different beast. But still a very fine one!