Thursday, March 21, 2013

A Year of Craft Beer, Vol. 81, Theakston Old Peculier

Old Peculier is considered an Old Ale of British origin.  Old Ales were aged in vats for a long time, hence the name.  Old Ales can be light or dark in colour, have full body and can be have flavors like raisin and black currants along with some acidic notes associated with it due to the occasional addition of brettanomyces (an alternative yeast sometimes used in sour beers) to the fermentation.  They can be hoppy but traditionally not.  They are mostly full bodied and sweet with a wide range of alcohol content but most likely around 6% ABV.

Points scored for the reuseable bottle!

I poured the beer at a cold temperature, unfortunately, so I may not be experiencing the full effect of the beer.  Vigorously poured it was opaque obsidian black and had a nice two finger sized brown head of various sized bubbles that settles to a ring and a full cap throughout the drink with a nice random streaking pattern of lacing.

The aroma is of dark malt sweetness with that brettanomyces kind of acidic aroma on top.  Some yeast and some fuggles (one of my favorite mild english hops, not "non-magic folk" from Hairy Pitburn) are very lightly apparent.   I also get a whiff of prunes.  Very nice and complex yet mellow.

This beer is sweet, but not overly so like you would picture a duble or triple of Belgian fare, but in a dark but unroasted malt sweetness of a way.  Within the sweetness hides notes of prunes and aloft there is a very mild bitter/sour/acidic hint that may be a mix of hops and that acidic flavor which all roll along the tongue in unison and down the gullet only to be followed by a neutral pause and then some very light hop dryness which is almost unperceptibly bitter.  Although it has a mildly pronounced sweetness, factors other than hops play a roll in balancing this beer well.

Mouthfeel is sweet of course.  Here I will introduce you to a word called "cloying".  Cloying means to some degree, overly sweet.  This beer IN NO WAY can be described as such.  It's perfect.  The body is full yet very drinkable and refreshing.  Carbonation is mild but just enough to lift the bitter to the top and help balance the beer well.  The finish is mildly dry and a tiny bit peppery from alcohol which gives a little warming effect on the way down.

All in all, I would have to say this beer is world class as well.  It's not judged as so on Beer Advocate, but there is very little that I can find fault with this beer.  English ales still are probably my favorite and I score them well.

Get out there and try Old Peculier!  Not only is the name different, but the beer will make you say "hmmm!"  Life is too short not to go "hmmm!"  Don't waste it on beer that makes you go "pppppppttt!"


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