This time, we start with the first of three-parts. For your entertainment and interest, I will bravely test (ok, enjoy) three of the Badger ales produced by the Hall and Woodhouse. A rustic old family brewers from Dorset. They go all the way back to 1777; a good sign if you like your old ales very old indeed.
We begin with the oldest and most widely available Badger; the Original Ale.
The label does all the right things. Hinting at fine ingredients; a head brewer and how old it is.
The rear label goes on to talk about how the original Badger ale was used by farm workers in the 1700s and then by the army in the Napoleonic Wars. Frustratingly, reading it a second time however, reveals that this ‘Original’ simply uses the real original from the 1700s as inspiration. A lot like the Greene King IPA unoriginal original.
One of the things I love about the Badger Ales are the Taste Profile boxes. These rate the bitterness, sweetness, hoppiness, maltiness and fruitiness on a scale of one to five, one being lowest and five the highest. If only all beers did this. It would make choosing what to buy so much easier.
Badger Original claims to be English ale at its best. Backed up by their taste profile, they claim a well balanced taste. Balanced, that is, between bitterness, fruitiness and spice. Let’s see how well it did…
Poured into a glass, you get a good thick head atop a generous 500ml of liquid.
Odour-wise, you’re treated to a surprisingly full smell of malt, hoppiness and even some fruits. This is what I want from a old ale; for it to smell like a field.
And the complexity carries through to the taste. It’s bitter. But not too bitter. It’s malty and hoppy, but not overpoweringly so. And you can just about detect some other things like fruit in there too.
The whole nearly-full-pint worth of drink went down very easily. Drinkability here is excellent. That said, it may be due to the rather limp 3.8% volume. This is not strong stuff, but it does smell and taste like how you want ale to be. What we have here is an English ale ‘experience’.
But. Is that at the cost of being something specific? It’s not a ‘proper’ bitter. And it’s not a crisp largery beer either. If however, you want big, complex, smells and flavours to go with your pie, this is marvellous.
Rating: 4 and a bit