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A great discovery and a strange brew

Just catching up on the weekend’s beer experiences.  Friday evening started with a dinner of roast belly pork, so I had the usual snuffle around the beer cupboard and decided on a bottle of Fuller’s Discovery (4.5%).  This is one of my regular favourites which we buy in the Brewery Tour 4-pack from Sainsburys.  It turned out to be an excellent accompaniment to the pork; pork, especially belly pork, can be somewhat fatty, and the sharp dryness of the Discovery really cut through that, and washed it down very well.

I then tried a bottle that had been sitting in the beer cupboard for a few weeks, since my last expedition to the local Threshers (see Threshing about).  I really don’t know what to make of Marston’s Firestoker (5%).  It’s a Pale Ale, and smells fruity and flowery – very aromatic.  It has a very bitter taste, with very little sweetness – very hoppy, and a curious taste that I recognised but couldn’t quite identify – something that was both unusual and interesting – very different.  I eventually had to refer to the bottle label for a clue – of course! – Vanilla!  Now, vanilla is one of my favourite flavours (custard is one of my favourite foods, but that’s another story) – and the first couple of swigs were very pleasant.  But then my old prejudice against beers that have extraneous flavours started to show through.  There was no suggestion on the bottle that there was vanilla in the ingredients, but it is difficult to imagine how such a strong vanilla taste could arise without it.  By the time I was halfway down the glass I was really starting to tire of it, and I was actually glad to see the end of it.  Maybe this beer would be best drunk with a pudding and custard, so that the vanilla toned in with the food.  I’m afraid that I won’t be rushing out to the shops to buy any more of this beer.

I needed something to take the taste away, so it was back to the Fuller’s and a bottle of Old Winter Ale (5.3%) – well, I thought I’d better see it off before Spring finally arrived!  A dark amber beer – quite sweet, which is not really to my taste.  I think this beer needs to be drunk with strong-tasting food – mature cheese or red meats – and not just as an accompaniment to Friday night TV.  It’s very pleasant, but not a beer I would want to drink a lot of.

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