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Weedy beer

badger dandelionThere seems to be a spate of beers around that have been “flavoured” with unusual ingredients, and Badger (Hall & Woodhouse) is getting in on the act.  The other day I wrote about their Lemony Cricket seasonal bitter (see It’s still Cricket season) which is flavoured with lemon grass – and actually tastes really nice.  I know that before hops were used as a flavouring and preservative in beer, a number of different herbs and spices were used to offset the sweet flavour of the malt.  However, in general, I like my beer to taste of beer, without any fancy embellishments – but I’m always prepared to give a beer the benefit of the doubt and give it a try.

Badger dandelion flavoured organic ale badger stinger(4.5%) describes itself as “a refreshing well-rounded ale with dandelion natural flavour”.  It has a golden colour and a slightly herby smell.  I’m not sure what I was expecting it to taste like – maybe something like the dandelion & burdock pop that I used to drink as a kid – but in fact it has quite a bitter, slightly oily, astringent taste.  I didn’t get the “floral hop tones” or the “delightfully grassy hedgerow aroma” promised on the bottle- in fact I found it slightly unpleasant.  As I got down the glass, it began to taste cloyingly sweet – and still oily.  It was drinkable as a one-off, but I won’t bother buying another.

River Cottage Stinger Organic Ale (4.5%) – Brewed by Badger – “brewed with organically grown hand-picked Dorset nettles”.  I wonder whether Dorset nettles are better than nettles from other counties for adulterating beer (you can probably guess that I didn’t like this one either).  It’s pale, with a very thin head that didn’t last long.  The bottle label says “slightly spicy with a light bitterness and a subtle tingle that comes from the nettles” – definitely light, in fact a bit thin tasting, but does have a bitter finish.  I couldn’t detect any “tingle” or any taste that might have been nettles.  None of the negative characteristics of the dandelion brew, but nothing to go out of your way for – clearly something of a marketing gimmick to attract the Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall fans.

As a self-proclaimed big fan of Badger beers, I was quite honestly rather underwhelmed by these two offerings – stick to the good stuff.

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