For this round we’ve been sent four beers that are worthy of a write up and something extra special to get us in the mood for Christmas…
St Peter’s Whisky Beer, 4.8%
Nose around a tourist shop in Scotland and you’ll probably spy all kinds of consumables flavoured with whisky. Whisky fudge. Whisky cheese. Whisky chocolate. In most cases these will be perfectly good products that have been tainted by the taste of whisky. In theory, beer flavoured with whisky should be much more of a successful product as both start out in the same way – by fermenting malted barley – but in practice we’ve rarely had a good whisky beer.
When St Peter’s brewery got in touch about their new whisky beer, brewed in collaboration with The English Whisky Company, we had a hunch that it might turn out better. Their beers are usually excellent and they’re adept at sympathetically introducing other ingredients into the mix. They sent us a brace of bottles and our hunch proved to be correct.
The beer itself is golden, with peaty malt that gives it a smoky aroma and flavour that is reminiscent of German rauchbiers, providing the perfect foil for the measure of whisky that gives it an extra snap. There’s a slight sweetness to the malty body and subtle bittering that maintains its beery profile without competing with the whisky. Unlike some whisky cheese we’ve had the misfortune of eating this is a product in which two different flavours work perfectly in harmony with each other.
Sadler’s Peaky Blinder Lager, 4.1%
Around our way, Sadler’s flies a little under the radar. Some of the brewery’s products occasionally pop up in discount supermarkets but we hardly see it otherwise. Which is a shame because they’re a reliable brewer with a wide range of quality beers.
As if to remind us of their existence they sent us a pack of their newly canned Peaky Blinder Lager, named after the notorious gang from the same Midlands heartland as the brewery. Grumpy, peaked-cap wearing ruffians may not make the most attractive visual feature for a can of beer, but it obviously helps market the product and, thankfully, the contents are much more pleasant.
There’s a good lager maltiness to this beer, with the flavour of the grains coming through and a light daubing of lemon peel and peppery hay to give it more interest and depth. It’s the kind of lager we might describe as ‘solid’ – one to load the fridge with, possessing enough flavour to be instantly rewarding, but also fuss-free allowing to drink without thinking. A perfect lager for drinking in front of the TV.
Camden Town Brewery, Harvest Hells, 4.6%
We do like a drink of Camden lager. Their consistently excellent Hells must be close to reaching ‘classic beer’ status and its spin-offs are usually simple, classy affairs that tend to slip down a treat. The press release for their latest offering began with a succinct line to whet our appetites: “Move over summer, Autumn is here and so is Camden Town Brewery’s brand new beer, Harvest Hells.” So we called in a four pack which disappeared in a flash.
The first can was enjoyed by Nick after a long afternoon of Autumnal garden toil, and it perfectly suited the moment: all the clean and refreshing flavour of a good lager but with a richer malt that aptly suited the season’s fading sunlight hours. And we don’t think there’s more we need to add: it’s a perfect lager in keeping with the Camden range.
Available from Sainsburys and Marks & Spencer for a limited period
Fourpure x Toast x Tate, Elemental Cucumis Sativus, 6%
An art gallery may not immediately spring to mind when you’re thinking of a place for a decent beer, but London’s Tate Modern gallery treats its booze as works of art and has a tap room teeming with glorious beer. They even hold a monthly tap takeover with brewers showing off their beer-making artistry over the course of an evening.
To further promote this beer and art partnership the Tate has teamed up with breweries Fourpure and Toast to produce Elemental, a sour beer with the refreshing flavours of cucumber. Using bread that would otherwise go to waste (that’s where the Toast team come in) it’s an environmentally conscious brew too. We found it instantly enjoyable, with the sourness being restrained just enough to allow other light, sweet floral notes to emerge along with the cooling flavours provided by the addition of cucumbers. A beer for arty environmentalists or anyone else with a thirst to quench.
Find out more about Tate Modern’s Tap Takeover here
Really Good Whisky Advent Calendar
24 drams of quality whisky tucked inside an advent calendar. We liked this so much that we’ve given it a separate review here.