Name – Nyewood Gold
Brewer – Ballard's
Classification – Premium golden ale
Strength – 5% ABV
Verdict - At A Glance
On the eye – Deep gold. Hypnotically carbonated, probably due to the very decent bottle-conditioning.
On the nose – The word is 'gentle'. Gentle hops. Gentle malts. Gentle general loveliness.
On the tongue – The maltiest 'gold' in town. And it works a treat.
On the subject – Named after their location in Nyewood, Sussex, this beer is the second from Ballard's I've tried so far. It takes only two beers to spot an outstanding brewery, and you're reading about one right now.
On the market – Growing availabilty, and it could not grow fast enough in my opionion. Don't wait, go online at the brewery's web store.
On the whole – 9/10
On the whole – 9/10
It's a word many beers aim for.
Some beers, however, don't appear to have targeted uniqueness as such – it's almost as though they've achieved it via a sequence of happy accidents.
Today's modestly labelled golden ale is quite simply like no other I've tried – and I mean ever. By my reckoning, it could lay claim to be the pioneering ale of an entirely new genre.
But don't misunderstand that – this is not a 'work in progress'. It's not a quirky prototype or a 'concept' beer. This is the finished road-going model, and it's heading to a bottle shop near you in exactly this form.
And what a form that is.
The principle flavour theme in this beer – apart from being almost hypnotically delicious – is a malt derived flavour which, for a golden ale, is not exactly routine to say the least.
In fact, this is such a richly malty beer – it almost defies it's own classification. But it has to be said that I'm a little wary of using the word 'malty' because of the array of usual flavour suspects that this word is bound to bring to people's minds. Therefore, it is essential that I stress that this is an entirely different kind of malt flavour, one which is so distinctive that it had me frantically reaching for the label in a state of ecstatic bewilderment.
But what secrets did I learn from that label?
Well, they've used Pearl malt, apparently.
And of course there's nothing overtly revolutionary about that. Although it was interesting to see they mention the malt almost immediately, as though to give thanks to what they believe is the the chief source of all this loveliness. And that might very well be the case, but I'll wager that a single malt, however lovely it might be, is unlikely to be the full explanation for a flavour like this one.
I reckon Ballard's have got something else up their sleeve's here, something very special, and they're pointing the finger at the Pearl malt in order to divert attention.
This flavour is a rich, robust, playfully spicy, herb-like affair. It's not a million miles from ginger, but it's not ginger. It's not a million miles from cinnamon, but it's not cinnamon. This same 'not a million miles' principle could be applied to flapjack, various liqueurs, all manner of spiced pastries, and no small amount of things that you simply would never taste but suddenly wish you had – like wood chips, creosote, and rain soaked straw bales.
This is just one flavour (others do feature in this beer, many of them much more typically 'golden ale' bitter citrus flavours), it has tremendous presence in the mouth, never holding back or hiding away – but for all it's impact, it's a real tough flavour to properly identify. It's almost too vivid to detect, if that's not an utter contradiction.
For those people who faint at the thought of ordering a yellow beer, fearing little in the way of depth or balance – I suggest that you drink this ale at your very first opportunity. Not only is it deep and balanced, but it has these qualities in greater amounts than many copper ales, bitters or premium amber beers.
Actually, this brew is quite weird, in many respects.
But in many more respects – it's utterly wonderful, and it quickly became a very firm favourite for me.
A solid, impossibly complex, rich, malty golden ale – which retains all of that golden beer hoppiness – but then throws in a ton of other elements that you would never have expected.
This is golden beer of an entirely new kind.