Thursday, December 18, 2003

English cask delight in Baltimore

18 December 2003 at Sean Bolan's in Baltimore was this English ale lover's delight.

On draft was George Gale Christmas Ale: brown/ruby red in color with evident crystal malt character accompanied by Christmas fruit-cake flavors of allspice,raspberry, apple, and raisin...a tippling 8+% abv. The bottled iteration was selected by the Baltimore Sun as one of three preferred imported Christmas beers this year.

The hand-pulled cask was Butty Bach, from Wye Valley Brewery, a regional in Herfordshire. It was bright with spot-on conditioning and 4.5% abv. The nose was superb: fragrant and spicy hops intertwined with a sweet malt aroma. Ditto for the flavor. The finish was surprisingly dry for only 28 BUs. I would have had a second but ...

There was another cask, set on the bartop. It was Ploughman's, from Wye Valley as well.

Wow! With a gorgeous red garnet shade, bright and clear, this was a very well conditioned pint. The head and lace were long-lived in the glass - well at least for the few minutes before I drained it. The aroma: coffee ice cream, toffee, dark fruit, and apples. 5.6% abv made this a welcoming winter warmer. The 45 BUs weren't evident as heavy-handed bitterness but as a welcome drying balance at the finish.

The couple sitting next to me at the bar, drinking the cask as well, took the name of the beer to heart, and ordered a Ploughman's Platter.

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