Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Old Worthy Scottish Pale Ale

Good evening all. Tonight's beer is Old Worthy, a Scottish Pale Ale from Old Worthy Brewing Co. (Isle of Syke, Scotland). I was given the opportunity to sample this beer before release thanks to Nick from the aforementioned brewery, and what makes this beer different is that it's been brewed with peated barley to add a smoky element to the usually-restrained Pale Ale style. Although this practice isn't unusual with Scotch Ales it's usually reserved for the darker and higher ABV beers, so to use it in a Pale Ale is generally unheard of and so it'll be interesting to see how it works with the other components. Review after the pic....

Old Worthy (5.0% ABV) pours a light golden colour with a relatively thick white head that retains itself well on the surface of the beer. The aroma is certainly different, with light peat smoke behind a malty backbone, accompanied by some bittering hops. When the aromas coalesce they create something that I can only describe as a rauchbier/lager hybrid, with the peated malt and earthier hops presenting an interesting and well-balanced dichotomy. Sometimes there are some sulfurous notes that are reminiscent of adjunct lager, but fortunately this isn't too consistent and doesn't spoil the overall aroma of the beer. The taste delivers much of the same, with bittering hops, light peat smoke, biscuit malt and a subtle sweetness in the background. Putting it in context, it's a lot like a Helles lager with some added spice and a slight tartness in the finish, making it an interesting and very drinkable beer. Aside from the tartness in the finish there's no bitterness, and virtually all of the flavours disappear during drinking to leave a dry aftertaste with some residual maltiness. The mouthfeel is slightly thick and the beer is moderately carbonated, which compliments the lighter flavours on show. Overall, this is an impressive beer that balances the contributions from the peated malt nicely to create a drinking experience that's somehow familiar yet totally unique. Definitely recommended, this would make a good weekday beer when considering the ABV percentage and the overall composition. Thanks again to Nick for the opportunity to try this great beer.

In the accompanying literature for the brewery and the beer, the idea of the "Half n' Half" was mentioned- pairing Scotch whisky with a small chaser of beer. I've dabbled with this concept before, so I decided to give it a try with this offering to see how the two compliment each other. Most of you will know that I'm a big fan of Islay whisky, so I busted out the big guns from my bar globe in the form of a dram of Laphroaig 10 Year Old Cask Strength. Reading comments from other bloggers regarding this beer, it seems that it can cut through peaty whisky surprisingly well, so I was interested to see what happens when a veritable titan of the Islay world is paired up with the subtleties of Old Worthy. Taking a sip of Old Worthy after the Laphroaig seems to amplify the sweetness of both drinks to the point where some honey flavours come through, along with some partial diluting of the whisky's alcoholic burn. The sheer peat power of the whisky overshadows any contributions from the beer's malt, but overall they compliment each other well. In fact, this might be the better way to consume the beer, although a more subdued whisky might be a better choice! I'm already looking forward to experimenting with the best couplings in the future.

Until next time....


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    1. https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-lTX2UF73PZo/UEcUhNTfceI/AAAAAAAAAks/mTAnRHbw8iQ/s512/Bar%2520Globe.JPG

      Purchased after my placement year, when it seemed like I had money to burn. Don't regret it though, it's certainly more fun than a cupboard!