The beer pours with a course head which subsides over a few minutes to a thin layer of foam and some lace stuck to the sides of the glass. The beer has an aroma of malt and goldings hops, with hints of fruitiness which I would expect from the Thames Valley ale yeast. The beer is dark-straw to light-amber in colour and remarkably clear.
The flavour is milder than I had expected – a slight malt/nut flavour from the Marris Otter malt is present, some fruity esters from the yeast provide a nice counter-point to the nuttiness, and all of that is build on a foundation of mild hop flavour and bitterness. The bitterness is actually much milder than I had expected – at 40 IBU I was expecting a more pronounced bitterness. The lower apparent bitterness is likely due to two things – the IBUs in my home-grown hops (used for the flavour and aroma additions) was likely on the low side, meaning the ~6 IBUs that I was expecting from the flavour addition was likely missing. Secondly, the gravity of this beer was much higher than expected – reducing both extraction efficiency of the hops as well as reducing the BU:GU ratio from 0.7 to 0.6. Despite the lower bitterness, the beer is well balanced and very easy drinking. This may be the ideal “conversion” beer for people who “don’t like craft/home brews”.
The body of the beer is quite thin – but given the high OG and low FG (1.065 & 1.006) this is of no surprise. The high attenuation and starting gravity give this beer one hell of a kick – 7.8% by volume. The light body of the beer hides the alcohol, but standing up after a few pints is a bit of a challenge. It certainty doesn’t help that this beer has a soft and mild finish – it is mild, nutty, shortly lingering and absent of bitterness or astringency. It tastes like beer, goes down like water, and will lay you on your ass if you’re not careful!