Beer Swap Review – Part 2 of 2

8 02 2010

Well after an enforced lay-off due to family illness and a need to spend some time working on my MSc I’m back and can finally wrap up #beerswap.  In truth I completed this post ages ago and had thought I had posted it already…numpty.

Rebellion Red – Rebellion Brewery, Marlow

Does what it says on the tin and pours into the glass as what looks to be a fairly standard red/brown ruby ale.  The aroma is buttery, in the manner of a heavily oaked Aussie chardonnay, with a toffee apple like sweetness and some light hops to balance things off.  The first mouthful was, well, underwhelming and my first notes were ‘typical, uninspiring, ruby ale…ho-hum’.

Not a great start, eh?  But the Red was just teasing me, playing me for the fool I obviously am.  By the third or fourth mouthful I started to wonder what was going on.  Suddenly I was getting that malty, caramel coming through along with a rounded fruitiness and the hoppy bitterness of the aftertaste was cleansing my palate which was now beginning to crave the next mouthful.  I was really beginning to enjoy this.  OK, so Red isn’t the best thing I’ve ever tasted, not even close, but it was a lovely balanced ruby session ale and ultimately, especially after my first impressions, a very pleasant surprise.

Henley Dark – Lovibonds, Henley-on-Thames

And so I saved what I hoped to be the best until last.  I have for several years now been a dark ale man, so I was particularly looking forward to giving this a try.  The colour was a bit of a surprise and this was more of a deep chestnut colour rather than the black I was expecting (though not sure why I was expecting that).  The aroma was very pleasant, a smokey, caramel sweetness with some spiciness lurking in the background.  Taste wise this was also surprising, a lighter mouth feel than expected and whilst the smokiness and caramel were there the predominant flavour was a sourness not unlike unripe cherries.   This was far from unpleasant but, again, not what I was expecting and reminded me of a mild rather than a porter.  All in all an interesting bottle of beer and fine example of why you shouldn’t make presumptions about what lies within the bottle.  But was it the best of the four? Truth be told I think the one I enjoyed most, for a number of reasons, was the Rebellion Red.

So there we go four brilliant reasons why beerswap is such a damned good idea.  OK, not every bottle hit the mark for me but I really enjoyed tasting stuff I had never come across before and may never have picked up even if I had done.  I had no problems using the Collect+ service although others had a nightmare experience so maybe the postal format needs to be re-examined for future beerswaps.  Thanks have to go to Andy Mogg and Mark Dredge for organising a bunch of errant beer tweeters which must have seemed like herding cats at times, great job guys.

Finally I guess the question has to be asked ‘Would I do this again?’ Hell yes.