DORSET’S most prolific brewer has snuck a couple more bottles into my local corner shop again. Marvellous. The last half-a-dozen bottles of Badger/Hall & Woodhouse ale I tried were very good. Or better. What is Fursty Ferret? And why is Ferret Fursty? Let’s see.
The bottle is transparent. Which is different to most other Badger bottles. It takes away the surprise of an unexpected colour. But then why hide such a deliciously brown liquid in an opaque bottle?
The bottle comes with a neck-label. And that label describes it as “Ale Full of Character”. Appetising, but it could do more. Brewers, use the neck label to tell us something useful about the drink. Is it fruity, malty or made with silage?
The front-label is the simplest Badger front-label I’ve seen yet. Just look at it.
Besides the name and logo, the only other details are “Country Crafted” and “Alc 4.4% Vol”. You have to love the ferret’s getting up to mischief around the keg of beer though. 4.4% volume isn’t too bad either. Even though I like my ale to have more power, a lot of you will like how it sits nicely between the three-point-something’s and more-than-five-percent’s.
The lack of information isn’t a problem either, when you remember how superb Badger’s back labels are.
The story comes with a story as tenuous as any about ferrets sneakily enjoying the brew at a country pub. It goes on to describe itself as a “tawny amber ale” with a “nutty” taste, “hoppy aroma” and something to do with “Saville oranges”. Fortunately, they also included one of their excellent charts for those of us who prefer to see pictures instead of reading. And, for the first time, I have a camera good enough for you to read what it says.
What are the most important bits? The taste. They describe it as “Malty” and balanced. On the chart, “Sweet” stands right out, bolstered by strong “Malt” and “Fruity”. But you didn’t need me to say that because, for once, my photo is good enough for you to see for yourself.
Under the interesting bits we get to the small print. The only ingredients on the list are “malted barley, wheat & sulphites”. At 4.4% volume, this standard 500ml weighs in at 2.2 UK units of alcohol. So you can have around two of them in one sitting.
At the very bottom of the label are the addresses that matter. There’s Hall & Woodhouse Ltd’s address. In case you want to write to them. Or visit them. And there’s the web address which is www.badgerales.com.
Does it taste sweet, malty and fruity? Time to crack open the bottle and find out. I’m looking forward to this.
The colour is as “tawny amber” as it looked in the bottle. Only now it has a patchy and rather disappointing head.
The label promised a complicated smell of things like spicy hops, orange and malt. That’s a lot of different things. It’s so complicated that I can’t disagree. All those things are in the smell. And possibly a few more besides. Hoppy, tangy and complex is the overly simplistic way I’ll choose to describe it.
Miraculously, it tastes exactly the way it smells. All the complexity and everything. That was a very satisfying first gulp.
The flavours aren’t strong. They’re not weak either. Just a bit passive. Great if you want a gentle, nutty and slightly fruity and malty. Not so much if you wanted something strong and outrageous.
The gentle flavour is gently replaced by the aftertaste that gently rolls onto your tongue. Pleasant hoppy-ness takes centre stage. Tangy malty-ness are the supporting acts. And the whole act is a bitter sweet balance. All in all, the label is spot-on.
Two-thirds of the way through the bottle, what am I enjoying about Badger Fursty Ferret? Quite a lot. Hall & Woodhouse rarely disappoint with their labels. The profile box on the back of Fursty Ferrett is as accurate as any. And that’s good because it will help you pick a bottle that you like. It smells complex, which a good ale should do. It tastes good. In fact, it’s so gentle and tasty, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone who’ll hate it. It’s not gassy. And the Badger quality is most definitely here. You can taste the care and quality. Especially if you’ve come straight from a lager.
What am I not enjoying about Badger Fursty Ferret? Mostly the things that come down to personal taste. The gentle flavour is all well and good, but I like something that takes bigger risks and does something original. Which Fursty Ferret doesn’t really. Even though that’s probably not what they set out to do. What else? Nitpicking again brings me to the strength, but then it never said it was a strong ale. The only valid complaint I can think of is that it’s hard to find in shops.
To sum up, Badger Fursty Ferret is a deserving member of the Badger line-up. It’s tasty, gentle and well made. Even if it is a little on the boring side. I liked it and you probably will too. It’s like Canada. Hard to hate.
Have you tried Badger Fursty Ferret? What did you think of it? Leave your opinions, corrections, requests, recommendations and places to buy in the comments section here.