Name – Brewer's Gold
Brewer – Crouch Vale
Classification – Golden ale
Strength – 4.0% ABV
Verdict - At A Glance
On the eye – Pale gold of the most captivating kind. Just lovely.
On the nose – Granary loaves, white wine and soft spices.
On the tongue – It doesn't lie. (Read on...)
On the subject – The cask version of this beer won CAMRA's Supreme Champion Beer Of Britain in 2005. Not feeling at all content with that, it went and won it again the following year. That's fairly greedy behaviour by anybody's standards, but it's also massively impressive. It's one of only two beers ever to have achieved back-to-back victories in this prestigious event. (Timothy Taylor's 'Landlord' being the other.)
On the market – Not the most massive on-shelf presence in retail history, which is somewhat odd considering its award winning pedigree, but Crouch Vale titles are now appearing more and more frequently nationwide these days, which is fantastic news for all. Try online at Ales By Mail.
On the whole – 8/10
On the whole – 8/10
It's not often that I 'borrow' descriptions from a beer's label.
Especially not for the opening remarks of a review.
The chief reason being that it might create the illusion that I'm a shocking slacker who is incapable of having any decent ideas of his own.
(Here's a short pause to accommodate your inevitable witty remark...)
(And highly amusing is was too, I'm sure.)
But the other reason for not quoting from labels is to avoid spreading a brewery's public relations 'message', whatever it might be. I think it's important for reviewers to focus on their own reactions and avoid references to any marketing, otherwise we'd wind up having to tell our readers that a company like BrewDog is the cure for a sickness that is the British beer scene which, quite obviously, is a steaming pile of post-graduate level bullshit which has nothing to do with the quality of the beer contained within the bottle.
Personally, I disregard as much of the marketing razzle-dazzle as possible, because I've long since realised that it almost never properly reflects the experience I am about to have, and it can often lead to an anti-climax or a bout of irritating bewilderment.
I also find a great many labels are crammed full of totally irrelevant, boring old nonsense. Many breweries have caught the seemingly un-kickable habit of going into great detail about the 'story' behind a beer's given name – as though the ale might somehow become enhanced if the reasoning behind its title is known by the drinker.
I absolutely couldn't care less why a beer has been called 'Odin's Rash'.
All I need is the name (preferably not Odin's Rash), a nicely executed design, a brief description, and a well crafted beer.
And I'm delighted to say that's exactly what Crouch Vale have provided in the shape of their Brewer's Gold. But what's especially pleasing is that they also happen to have got that 'brief description' element absolutely spot on, and that's why I'm more than happy to borrow it.
“A light thirst quenching brew" is how it reads.
And boy oh boy, is that accurate.
From the moment it's poured this beer oozes with refreshing summertime appeal. With its lightness of body and its gorgeous 'midday sun' pale-gold hue – it literally announces itself as a beer which could rapidly obliterate every single thirst in the room.
And that announcement is no hoax.
Well hopped, crisp and agreeably bitter, this golden ale is blessed with some very keenly judged levels of citrus sharpness (principally orange, grapefruit and kiwi) and this is held aloft with considerable style by some gently nutty and 'woody' malts.
It all makes for a very special overall effect.
The relatively moderate 4.0% alcohol content is worn with pride, no attempt is made to overcompensate with aggressive or overtly 'showy' flavours, resulting in a remarkably 'moreish' feel which many golden beers would envy.
It's a thoroughly enjoyable brew, which just so happens to be everything that its label claims it is.
In an era where so many labels confound us with tall tales, overblown claims and tedious nonsense, this bottle reminds us what is really meant by 'an honest ale.'
Honest... and pretty darned delicious.