ALL too soon, we reach the end of our second round up of Hall & Woodhouse brewed ales. If you haven’t read my reviews of their other brews yet, then here’s your chance to catch up. Brace yourself, they’ve built up a vast range of bottles:
Hall & Woodhouse do traditional ales very well, but that they aren’t afraid to try new things and throw in the unexpected. But will that be the case with Badger Blandford Fly?
On the outside the Badger style is much in evidence. And as usual, the neck label is the place to start.
This one goes with a little sentence that describes it as “An unusually refreshing premium ale subtly spiced for EXTRA BITE”. Their capitalisation. Not mine. Which hints at what will make this refreshing ale, stand out from the crowd.
Onto the roundel, and all the details are where they should be. It’s not overcrowded. And I happen to think it all looks quite attractive. The old Badger 1777 logo makes a more prominent reappearance this time. And the little illustration of a Blandford fly inbetween the words “Subtly” and “Spiced” hint at a story behind it. The 5.2% volume is on there. And besides the mentions of Hall & Woodhouse and Blandford St. Mary, Dorset; there’s not much to report from the front. Apart from the symmetry. Maybe that’s why it looks just right?
Around on the back label, things are straightforward again. Accompanied by some little illustrations of flys buzzing around, it starts with a concise description of what this ale is all about. As well as aiming to be a refreshing premium ale, it also has spicy ginger overtones and a warming character. The spicy ginger must be what gives it that “EXTRA BITE” mentioned on the front.
Those of you wanting a story to go with your ale won’t be disappointed. This one goes with that of the Blandford Fly of Dorset’s River Stour. You see where they got the name for this ale? It transpires that the fly in question has a habit of biting people. And that custom was; ginger would provide an antidote. Which would explain the name and idea behind this ale. Okay, it’s a tenuous link, but it’s better than some of the stories on beer bottles.
The invaluable ‘Taste Profile’ chart is always worth a look. Especially with Blandford Fly. This is the first time that I’ve seen one element of it rate as a five and another rate as a zero. In pole position this time with five out of five, is ‘Sweet’. ‘Bitter’ and ‘Fruity’ both receive three. ‘Malty’ has two. But ‘Hoppy’ isn’t even on the chart. According to this chart, Blandford Fly will be sweet, fruity and not even slightly hoppy. I can’t wait to find out what that’s going to be like.
But unfortunately there’s the small print to get through. Which I happen to know that some of you out there do like to know. So let’s plough through them quickly in order to get to the fun part of the review… The Blandford St. Mary, Dorset address is on there. So to is the www.badgerales.com web address. This is a 500 millilitre bottle, so the 5.2% volume gives it 2.6 UK units of alcohol. And it contains malted barley. That’s the dry part of the review out of the way. Now, time to find out what Blandford Fly is really all about.
This has one of the most distinctive smells I’ve yet witnessed. You can smell the ginger. And it is as unexpected as you’d imagine. Even after reading the label. You just don’t expect to smell it from an ale. Unusual and a good start.
Within one gulp, you can tell this is exactly as advertised on the label and the ‘Taste Profile’. The first taste you get is one of sweetness. Quickly followed by bitterness and fruitiness. Followed by an aftertaste of ginger. And that, is the sting of the Blandford Fly.
Some, if not most ales, need the entire bottle to figure out. But this gets straight to the point. And I have to say, I like it. And not just the being polite, acknowledging the quality, half-heartedly liking it. Blandford Fly is excellent. It’s easy to drink. Quite refreshing. Not too gassy. And it has that unusual ginger ‘sting’ that adds the most important quality. Difference. And I love beers that do something different.
The downsides. That ginger flavour is strong and won’t be to everyone’s tastes. So it won’t please everyone. You couldn’t describe it as ‘inoffensive’.
To try and sum up then; Blandford Fly is a Marmite of an ale. You’ll either love it or hate. I happen find it outstanding. And as it’s my blog, it gets a high rating. If you like unusual beers and ales, this is well worth the risk.
If you’ve tried Blandford Fly, I’d be interested know if you liked it as much as I did. Or if you didn’t.
If you’ve got any suggestions of your own for ginger flavoured ales, or anything else you want me to review, leave a comment in the box below.