Thursday, 18 August 2011

Day 121, Beer 121 - St. Austell's "Admiral's Ale"

Today's Beer

Name – Admiral's Ale

Brewer – St Austell

Classification – Premium ale/ESB

Strength – 5.0% ABV

Verdict - At A Glance

On the eye – Rich, deep chestnut. Really quite handsome. Quite bubbly and 'lively' for a bottle-conditioned beer, but I ultimately found that to be a bonus with this beer.

On the nose – Very special. Rampant citrus, chiefly apple and blackberry, with soft sweet-biscuit malts.

On the tongue – Packed. Utterly rammed with flavours. But not quite the flavours you are prepared for... (see below). 

On the subject – Well, whether you take great interest in industry awards, or whether you look down your turned-up nose at them, this beer couldn't care less either way. It's far too busy polishing the contents of it's very own trophy cabinet. Seriously, if you want to get in touch with this beer, you'll have talk to it's people. It doesn't have time for riff-raff since it became 'World Beer Of The Cosmos Totally Ever' and goodness knows what else. During a recent rare interview, Admirals Ale was quoted as saying that all other UK beers should “go get themselves some lives!”

On the market – All over the place. You can't miss it. By all means pretend you can't find one and buy online at the brewery's own shop.

On the

Full Review

The 'Admiral' in question here is of course Admiral - or 'Lord' - Nelson, and it's funny how names like his still have a nasty tendency to drag me kicking and screaming all the way back to school.

It's really only a best guess, but I think the name of my history teacher was “Mr Jenkins.”

As far as I can recall, he was a fairly sweet natured, youngish guy, with an infectious sense of humour, a certain 'laddish' charm and an enviable supply of tolerance. But he was still a teacher, so I hated his guts.

To be honest, my recollection of him as a person isn't massively clear, but this is probably because I spent almost every moment of his classes doing nothing other than wish for the ceiling to collapse suddenly and kill us all.

I didn't like school much.

Today, however, I'm wishing I had paid more attention when 'Mr Jenkins' was telling us all about the legendary 1st Viscount Nelson, because today I have sampled a beer by St Austell Brewery which suggests that this national hero was actually a figure of huge contradictions. I really don't recall hearing anything about this particular aspect of dear old Horatio's character. But then, I took on board so very little information during those sessions it's a wonder that I know anything about him at all.

Didn't he invent French people?

Or discover North Norfolk?

Anyway, having just (rapidly and enthusiastically) sunk this premium bitter dedicated to the man himself, I think I've learned something quite remarkable about the human being that lies behind the legend, something altogether less well-known about this Super-Mariner-Brother which is considerably more intriguing than any of his historical exploits. It's a little-known fact about a well-known man, a fact which a certain Cornish brewery is clearly very keen for us all to be aware of, and which I'm going to take the liberty of revealing to you right here and now...

Vice-Admiral Nelson smelled remarkably different to how he tasted.

Incredible, isn't it?

It's an awesome slice of genuine insight which – without this beer – so many of us might never have known.

And here's the ingenious way in which this deliciously educational drink provides us with this knowledge.

Cracking the lid on this beer is like slamming nose-first into a mountain of freshly picked apples and hedgerow berries. The intensity of that initial citrus waft is electrifying, with that dominant apple theme filling your captivated mind with images of verdant juicy orbs hanging from endless rows of heavily laden trees.

It's mightily good. Few beers have ever been quite so welcome to invade my nostrils, an invasion made all the more pleasant by the faintest undercurrent of roasted cashew and macadamia nuts which issues gently forth from the malt.

However, shortly after this sensory firecracker explodes, another of your senses proceeds to bombard your brain with a startlingly different set of images – and herein lies the flavour-derived suggestion that Lord Nelson was a highly contradictory character.

The taste of this ale could hardly be more different from it's aroma. In the mouth, this is a much darker, broodier, maltier affair, with swathes of burnt treacle, steamed dates, licorice and candied fruits all emerging from shadowy hidey holes to beguile you and melt your tongue into submission. 

After all that zesty razzle-dazzle you've had coming from the fragrance - these deep, rich and roasty flavours are an overwhelming surprise

'Where the heck did that come from!', was my one and only thought for a good two minutes.

But lovers of crisp bitterness need not worry – it's not as though the aforementioned hop-fuelled citrus leaves the party at the tasting stage – it's merely joined by a bunch of guests you never dreamt had been invited.

This is a proud, robust and elegant tasting brew, one which would enhance an Autumn evening as well as any other beer choosing to market itself in such a way.

Maybe Nelson really was a man of contradictions, and maybe this beer reflects that rather ingeniously. 

Or maybe it's just a coincidence that this ale is so deliciously 'multifaceted.' 

Whichever way you look at it, this is a rich, fruity, zesty, roasted-malt marvel of a beer.

A beer you should definitely be looking to sample if you haven't yet done so.


arn said...

i love this beer, just went POW!!!! in my mouth first time i tried it.
Pity i cant get it round here!!!!

Anonymous said...

Great review of an absolute classic beer. It is the benchmark I use for all other beers and I've yet to have something that has bettered it.

The Hearty Goodfellow said...

arn - It's not always the most widely available St. Austell beer, which is a bit puzzling considering the number of accolades and its many fans. Some trendy stores stock others and avoid it. I'd love to know why. I have my suspicions, but without concrete evidence, I'd better stay silent...

Anon - Your comment supports my last point very nicely. This beer really is a very well liked ale.