Taking a break tonight from the ales that my students gifted to me to enjoy something that Catherine likes. Catherine was drinking proper ale before I even knew the difference between beer and lager and so it was about time that I trusted her judgement and tried it for myself.
It is, of course, Lancaster Bomber from Thwaites and so is something from my own youth and past that somehow passed me by. Part of that may well be because I was rubbish and more interested in not drinking a drop of alcohol in my youth. No, really, I was very proud of the fact that I was teetotal and avoided even eating liquer chocolates! Also, most of the time I spent in University was spent believing that beer was pretty awful. I had a pint of Black Sheep on my first(?) night and then some Carlsberg (ugh) in Freshers' Week and then it was spirits (vodka and coke) all the way - unless I had Pepsi. On it's own. Cans were very cheap. I digress, on with the review.
On opening there is an a hoppy and malty aroma that is pleasant and not a little dissimilar to that of Wainwright that I tried a while ago. However, the carbonation really takes a hit of that nose and makes it difficult to judge from the bottle alone. At 4.4% ABV there's not a huge kick to this but when pouring it out there is a definite pungence of alcohol about the whiff that is actually rather pleasing, reminding you that are dealing with a mature ale rather than some natty energy drink.
In the glass I was surprised to see that it actually has a ruby undertone to the nutty brown that it colours. Darker than chestnut, it reminds me of the sheen one gets on conkers in the autumn, and also there's a vinegar like hue there too. But the similarity ends there, thank goodness! There's a froth to begin with but the head doesn't hang around for long, reminding me of the ale I had in the Norfolk Broads by accident, and the fizz seems to have disappeared after a minute or two. Still there on the tongue but not in evidence in the glass. Of course, I haven't chilled it and am tasting at room temperature so that may have something to do with it.
Fruity tones on the nose in the first taste, followed by a pleasant low spicy feel to it as it swirls around the tongue. Not too strong, the hops leave a lasting impression before being briefly overtaken by the barest hint of malt. It's not anything that will have fireworks going off in its name or that will make you want to sing its praises but nor is it tasteless or bland. It is a very sessionable ale, one that will stand repetition and being drunk with strong flavours at a meal. I reckon it would go well with steak or, if you are a vegetarian, with a good nut roast: I would suggest that cashews would work well, but ladle on the mushrooms to really complement the taste and spice of the hops. The bottle tells me that they are late hops, whatever that means, but I don't really know how that changes anything. There is a passing resemblance to Late Red so I suppose that's your late hops right there. Not as strongly hoppy as Thoroughbred Gold nor as smooth as Banks's Bitter but I like it.
Overall, this is not one that does well out of being drunk singly. It would be best as part of a session on an evening or as part of a proper meal. It is neither thirst quenching nor so dry that it requires water on hand but, rather, works well and holds its own. Enjoy this after a day at work or on a long evening, it probably wouldn't do so well out in the sunshine or with a curry for example. Let it breathe a bit, give it some room, and hang fire on the bar snacks. Would do well from the pump rather than from the bottle, though from a bottle is still very serviceable. Another sharing beer methinks, rather than a drinking alone tipple.
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