HERE is a bottle, and a category of beer that has long intrigued me: Young’s Waggle Dance. And it’s a honey beer. Yes, I’m confused by what that means, too. But apparently there are other honey beers out there. This one looks as good a place as any to start with honey beers.
It’s from the Wells & Young’s English brewing empire. The same one that brought us the excellent Wells Bombardier Satanic Mills and the above average Young’s London and Champion beers. Expectations are high-ish, then for this 500 millilitre bottle regularly stocked by Tesco.
The first thing you notice is the honey coloured theme. The transparent glass bottle lets you glimpse liquid of a colour you would normally associate with a different supermarket shelf entirely. The temptation at this point would be to fill the labels with pictures of bees, beehives or beekeepers. But Young’s go and so something quite unexpected.
The neck label doesn’t do anything at all. Absolutely nothing. There’s some honey yellow shades and some wavy lines, but that’s it.
But the main front label goes for a photo of a woman dancing. Seriously. See for yourself.
Another thing that strikes me about the front label is how much of it is simply blank, yellow coloured space. Apart, that is, from a tiny, lone picture of a bee. Above that, and the dancer, there is the very prominent “Waggle Dance” name. Maybe the woman pictured is dancing the Waggle?
Reading on… The rest of the front has the important details such as the 5% volume. Which I’m pleased to see. The Young’s established date of 1831 is also there. And above the main title is the description “a Light & Refreshing Honey Beer”. Sounds delicious.
Turning the bottle around and restraint is again in evidence on the back label. No pictures of dancers, bees or anything.
Instead, there’s a paragraph of background and the usual small print. This time, the background story is really worth reading. If for no other reason, than to explain what this Waggle Dance business is all about. And Young’s open the story with perhaps the best sentence you could have on a beer bottle… “Unusual name, unusual beer”. Tell me even you wouldn’t want to read on after that?
It goes on to explain that the Waggle Dance is something a bee does in a bee hive, to tell the other bees about a source of nectar. A sort of communication through expressive dance.
Furthermore, Waggle Dance is brewed with “a touch of honey” which gives it the taste it has. And that it has a “healthy dose of hops” to provide bitterness, giving a “delicate flavour”.
All very feminine. Which leads me to a theory. That Waggle Dance is aimed at the woman drinker. The picture of the dancer on the front. The warm colour. The choice of words on the label. It’s all painting a picture. And that picture is carrying a handbag.
Also tucked away on the back label are the small print details. That this has 2.5 UK units of alcohol. That it was brewed and bottled in Bedford, England. And that the web addresses that matter are www.youngsathome.co.uk and www.wellsandyoungs.co.uk. Both of which go to very professional websites.
Will my theory hold true? Will the honey taste be noticeable? And is Waggle Dance any good? Time to find out.
In the glass, you can see that it’s a good dark golden colour. And that it comes topped by a nice frothy head.
But while I was pouring, what struck me was the smell. It really is quite strong. And quite pleasant. To me, it smells like yeast and hops. But I’m notoriously bad a judging smells. Are yeast and hops what I’m smelling here? Or is it something else? If you think you know what Waggle Dance smells of, leave a comment at the end of this post.
A couple of gulps in and the first thing I’m noticing is the hoppy bitterness. So far, that’s all I’m noticing. It’s both the fore and aftertaste. It’s also rather gassy.
Further in, and the smoothness and quality are starting to shine through. This is not going to be difficult to drink quickly. I’m not sure if it’s my imagination, but I am now starting to detect that very slight hint of honey sweetness, buried deep beneath the hoppy bitterness.
About half way through now, and I’m starting to enjoy this Waggle Dance honey beer concept. It’s bitter, but it’s not hard going. And if you look hard, it’s balanced by a little bit of sweetness. Whether it’s sweet or fruity enough to satisfy the tastes of female drinkers though, I’m not sure. So girls, if you’ve tried this beer, leave a comment on what you thought of it.
If it were up to me, I’d add a whole lot more honey inspired sweetness. Not being a huge fan of bitterness, I think a very sweet beer would be an excellent niche filler. As it is, I’m awarding some extra marks for originality. Because even though there are some other honey beers out there, it’s hard to call them mainstream yet. But I’m taking some away because it could go a lot further.
Overall, Waggle Dance is another above average beer from Young’s. It does something somewhat unusual. It packages it in an inspired way. And it’s very drinkable. But at the end of the day, it’s another mostly bitter tasting beer.
If you’ve tried Waggle Dance, leave a comment! If you’ve tried any other honey beers, leave a comment on what they were and what you thought of them.
Any other suggestions or ideas for the blog are also very welcome.