I like strong ales. They keep their aims simple. And they usually deliver. But there’s always something to distinguish one over another. It could be drinkability or flavour or any other characteristic. So, how will Maximus fare against the competition?
The neck label starts off promising enough.
“National Award Winner” keeps the message simple. And is usually a good sign. Hopefully, we’ll learn what award it actually won, elsewhere on the bottle.
In front of what looks like a shield, is a sword. On front of that is the stylised name of Maximus and the words “Strong Premium Ale”. Maximus sounds Latin to me, but do the illustrations of the shield and sword match the era?
Something else on there too is the volume. Which for this 500 millilitre bottle from Tesco, is 6.5%. Not that high for a strong ale, but strong enough for it to qualify as one.
Another thing that’s noticeable about this bottle is that you can see the drink inside. And more clearly than you can with most others. Without a vast wrap around label stuck on, or a dark shade of glass bottle, you can see the liquid within. Which in this case, is a very dark brown.
Over on the back label, we learn a little bit more. But not very much more. This is clearly a bottle of few words. It doesn’t say which national award it won. But it does describe it as being “strong”, “warming”, “smooth” and “easy to drink”. All the right things, but I’ll be the judge of that, thank you very much.
The label goes on the say that the Maximus name comes from the name of it’s sister beer, “Double Maxim”. And that it, not Maximus, has been brewed and sold since 1901. They also suggest serving slightly chilled at 12 degrees C. Whether that’s what my fridge is set to is anyone’s guess.
In the small print, we learn that the brewer is Double Maxim Beer Company Ltd. They kept that fact surprisingly hidden. Most bottled beers advertise their brewery quite prominently. But not this one. For the curious, their Wearfield, Sunderland address is on there. As is their web address at www.dmbc.co.uk. Which, doesn’t link to their website at all. Not again. This is another bottle that has printed on it, a web address that doesn’t work. Come on guy, your beer is being sold at Tesco now. These things need to be right. A Google search reveals their website to be hiding at www.dmbc.org.uk.
Enough prattle. Time to find out if Maximus deserves its national award. Whatever that award happened to be.
Shortly after pouring, I remember that Young’s Champion was passed its best before date. So I decide to double check this one. And cripes. This one passed its best before date on the 28th of January this year. Oh well. I’m still here after Young’s Champion, so I’ll give this a try as well. Plus I really really want a drink, so nothing is going to stop me.
It has a stouty smell to it as well. You know the one. That rich malty smell. But in a strong ale, that’s nothing to be afraid of.
The first gulp down, and you can tell that this is another good, strong ale. It is very smooth and about as bubbly as Gordon Brown. The taste is rich, but not so strong as to scare off the timid drinker. And, predictably, it tastes of malt and barley. Not surprising, when the chief listed ingredient is “malted barley”.
What is mildly surprising me is that it has apparently no bitterness at all. Which I warmly welcome. The aftertaste is a slightly sour one of hops. But it’s not very hoppy.
Other pluses are that Maximus is easy to drink. And that it is full-bodied, with plenty of flavour.
The minuses are that it’s not in any way light and refreshing. Although, having never described itself as such, that may be unfair on it. It does however, leave you with a not too pleasant wheaty aftertaste that lingers on an on. The heaviness might put women and lager drinkers off. And there’s not exactly a complex bouquet of aromas or flavours. Which will put off the real-ale fans. It also doesn’t leave any room for character and originality which I qualities I respect and give high marks for. Again though, that’s not point of strong ale.
What Maximus is all about, is the basics of ale, but done well. And done strongly. It’s strong. Easy to drink. And there is a lot to like about it. But there are one or two drawbacks that keep it from troubling the most outstanding beers and ales. Despite these, I enjoyed this bottle. And it deserves whatever award it won. Give it a try if you like your ale strong.
Have you tried Maximus Strong Premium Ale? Do you think I should try their Double Maxim?
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