As part of Bradley's' ongoing 4 for €9 offer on beers nearing their death bed, I picked up this pair from the Hogs Back Brewery in Tongham, Surrey.
The first was mainly selected by merit of it's name. Tea is, of course, the world's other great tipple. This TEA (Traditional English Ale), however, is completely different. Pouring a colour that is actually not totally unlike a black tea, the nose picks up on some nice sticky malts, with toffee and light fruity highlights the most notable characteristics. The taste is delicious, continuing the line of toffee malt backbone, while grapefruit fades into realization as the dominant fruit number. A touch of maple syrup, a hint of almond marzipan, and a light green apple-skin aftertaste lend a surprising depth to this beer. It's certainly a nice one to try, and seems to be a malt-driven ale with a low hop profile. I'll be having this again if I can't make up the numbers in my next deal.
Next up is Burma Star Ale. I don't know what this is, despite it's cryptic billing as an 'old-style ale'. What is that? Aren't most styles of ale old? Anyway, it was certainly old in another way - a December expiry date meant that this had likely seen better days. Still, the nice caramel malt character of the aroma does it's best to mask any ill effects of age, with the grapefruit element here much less welcome than in the Tea, and a sharp tang hidden somewhere in the folds betraying the beer's handicap. The taste is quite nice though, with another malt backbone, although this time not as sweet or dark, and with more of a bitter bite from the fruity, almost herbal hops. It's difficult to mark out any real flavour characteristics, but the experience as a whole is easy-going, very drinkable and at least averagely enjoyable. That is, until the unpleasant sharpness of the finish kicks in.