Name – Honey Blond
Brewer – Liverpool Organic
Classification – Well, the brewery are calling it a 'Honey Beer', so I'll reluctantly tow the line...
Strength – 4.6% ABV
Verdict - At A Glance
On the eye – Possibly the only honey-like quality of this drink.
On the nose – Sharp citrus, faint fruitcake sweetness. All pretty low key.
On the tongue – Super dry and bitter and therefore something of a riddle in terms of branding. A delicious riddle, but definitely a riddle. (Read on...)
On the subject – This brewery is among the most exciting new companies in the industry. Organic ingredients and exemplary bottle-conditioning are used to enhance some astonishing recipes, amounting to the most consistently impressive range of bottled beers I've yet found.
On the market – This brewery's market presence still has a way to go if its going to make the huge impact which its marvellous beers merit, but the momentum is increasing nicely all the time. For the impatient, the company has its very own online store.
On the whole – 9/10
On the whole – 9/10
It's another gorgeous, more or less infallible beer from Liverpool Organic.
Those of you wondering why this would be a problem might want to take a look at the opening passages of this recent review, but let's just say my chart's uppermost section is getting rather congested with this company's products. Basically, they sent me loads of different beers and every new one I try is utterly outstanding.
It's a real nuisance.
Today's beer, needless to say, is no exception to this pesky rule, and now I'm sat here in a state of what I can only describe as 'pleasant torment', taking savagely enjoyable sips of this miraculous stuff and wondering how I can possibly prevent it from entering the top ten.
The funny thing is, I do actually have a gripe, but sadly it's nothing to do with the beer itself, so I can't really use it as a convenient trigger for downgrading the score.
The problem I have is with the name.
To be absolutely specific, it's not a problem with the name itself, but about what that name implies.
The use of the word 'honey' implies that this beer is a sweet and syrupy affair.
It is not.
Moreover, the word implies that this beer features the flavour of honey.
It does not.
Now, in truth, I was hugely relieved to discover that this beer's label is a filthy liar, because to have had these implied characteristics would have made this beer just the sort of English ale that I don't much care for. But it does make me wonder what's going on when a beer's given name and its essential nature are so massively at odds.
And boy – are they at odds.
Instead of a lot of syrupy sweetness, we have an ultra-dry, ultra bitter, citrus intense, and gently nutty pale copper beer. Quite where honey is involved is a complete mystery – one which begins at the very first sip and sustains until the very last drop.
As I have already made clear, the absence of any honey-like elements is absolutely fine by me. But the reality is that I would never have thought to buy this beer in the first place – purely due to the mention of honey's involvement, and all those people who would be tempted by the 'honey factor' are almost certain to wind up disappointed. (Or perhaps 'confused' is a better word than 'disappointed' – as I really can't imagine this beer being a disappointment to anyone with a functioning sense of taste.)
Of what can be detected in this beer (setting aside what cannot be detected in it) there are bags of high citrus notes from gooseberry and grapefruit, some lovely savoury layers from the delicate malts, and the sense of 'just-brewed' freshness is typical of this brewery's work.
This is a vivid, dynamic, refreshing and intensely uplifting drink experience.
There really is honey involved in the process (I'm told) and perhaps the aromas do contain the faintest trace of something not a million miles away from such a substance. The colour, too, is perhaps not the least honey-like shade on Earth, but I'm delighted to report that this these are the only real suggestions I could find.
All I can say is, if honey-themed beers are your thing, there's plenty of other stuff to enjoy about this beer which make up for honey's apparent reluctance to transfer itself from the bottle into your mouth.
And if honey is absolutely not something you make welcome in your beer – do not allow this fabulous ale's mischievous name to scare you away.
It certainly scared bees away.