Yes, I'm still writing about the beers I've had over (and just after) Christmas, what of it?
I've paired these two simply because their respective brewers have designated them as strong ales. Vague? Perhaps.
The first of the two beers is from Fullers, their Golden Pride. The name suggests some genealogical relation to their flagship London Pride, and by pouring a clear Lucozade orange, it certainly looks like that beer. Unsurprisingly, the aroma is completely different; rich sweet malts with raisin and honey notes not completely unlike a Sauternes, though of course not as overwhelmingly perfumey. A light tingling spice and citrus pith note is the mean contribution of the hops, and brings to mind a pleasantly fruity English-style barleywine. The palate opens with a slab of thick chewy caramel malt that fades to reveal the citrus and green leafiness of the hop character, before the 8.5% alcohol takes hold and turns the taste a bit heady and perfumey right at the end.
Nice and intense yet remaining plenty drinkable, this is one to try. A perfect winter warmer.
By contrast, Morland's Hen's Tooth looks a sorry character in its clear glass bottle. When will Greene King and Spitfire get the message about clear glass? Anyway, I tried not to let this discrepancy influence my tasting, and found that I needn't have worried. This beer is an amber/red colour and gives an aroma of grain, bread and tin foil and nothing else. Even after plenty of time in the glass, the air above the beer and in my nostrils remains largely empty, aside from the nondescript malt and slight off-ness. The palate is a bit more lively, with an almost taste-able note of 'bland' amid miscellaneous toffee, caramel and grainy stuff, and remains just about drinkable enough for me to finish the half litre.
Disregard the the clear glass. Bottle this in Swarovski crystal and it will still be a bit shit.
Fullers win hands down.