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.


2 comments:

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!