Thursday, 5 July 2012

#51: Few Cans?

I've recently been seeing more canned English ale cropping up in supermarkets - Tesco's world/craft beer thing in the past month or so brought in London Pride, Abbot Ale and Ruddle's County all in the street drinker's vessel - and while I would usually go for the bottle, the cans tend to be less than €2 a pop so it is a good way to get around a few ales.

First up is Greene King's Abbot Ale. The colour seemed pretty familiar, and after a moment of pondering I put my finger on it: Lucozade. It's lightly carbonated and has a creamy 2-finger slice of head. On the nose, toffee malt is pretty strong at first. Caramel and bread-like yeast follow up, with the fresh grassy hop aroma actually developing over time - usually I find this is the other way round. I wouldn't say the beer has a definite fruity character, but there are little suggestions otherwise. Upon sipping, I realise there are indeed small fruity elements mixed here and there with the nutty toffee malt and bitter finish. It's very drinkable, if not a bit flat. I concede this may have been the pour, but either way, the body and overall drinking experience deteriorates over time. Fairly standard, probably won't be trying again, but if I do, I think I'd go for the bottle.

Next up is Ruddles County, another ale that Tesco recently got in in both can and bottle, and once again I opted here for the €2 can. Lucozade again comes to mind, but thankfully that's just on the appearance. On the nose, it's very malt-heavy at first, with a nutty toffee character dominating and fresh citrus zest hop notes hiding underneath. Woody toffee malts are again on the front of the taste, with citrus, grapefruit and apple following up and offering a nice bitterness, and gorgeous nutty biscuit flavour finishing things off. It's very smooth and drinkable, but like the Abbot, it deteriorates quite a bit as time goes on, making it downright unenjoyable after around halfway through. Also like the Abbot, I don't think I'll be trying this one again anytime soon.

Finally, a beer I didn't pick up in Tesco, but in off-licence chain Carry Out. Hobgoblin came in what I perceived as a quirky lightweight 440ml can. Unlike the previous two, this pours very dark, but is quite clearly ruby red when held to light. Deep malts dominate the aroma, just as in the bottled version. These are characterised by sticky toffee and caramel, with floral and citrus hops hidden in the folds of malt. The aroma is matched almost perfectly by the taste, with nice dark wooden chocolate and toffee flavours giving way to dark and citrus fruits, with a mild bitter finish. The body is probably the best of the three cans, and the drinkability lasts longer. Not bad from the can, but Hobgoblin costs around €2 from  a bottle anyway, so that would still be my serving of choice.

I didn't take notes on the London Pride, and like the Hobgoblin it's good, but not as good as from the bottle. Both are better than the canned Abbot Ale or Ruddles County. I think this is a fairly worthwhile experiment, as canned ale is becoming more common in non-specialist outlets in Ireland. In bulk, it can work out a good deal cheaper, but I've yet to find a can that I really enjoy.

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