Recently I reviewed a couple of beers for The Brew Club from The Okells Brewery on the Isle of Man. The brewery were kind enough to send me samples of four of their brews, and check out the original Okells beer reviews if you’d like to catch up!
So, to the other two brews they sent me…
Doctor Okells IPA – 4.5% ABV
This proudly announces on its label that it has been brewed at the ‘The Falcon Steam Brewery’ since 1874 to the local purity law. Not a great surprise as it was Doctor William Okell who formulated said purity law!
Anyway, an IPA should be the mainstay of any self respecting British brewer, so let’s see how Doctor Okell performs.
It pours well, bright and golden with a light head that is fairly quick to disperse, but does leave some lacing around the glass. The nose is hoppy but not too hoppy, it’s well balanced.
The flavour is much the same, there’s a good, dry hop bite but underlying hints of honey sweetness that restrain that bite slightly, giving the beer an interesting balance. At 4.5% it’s at the stronger end of the range for a session beer, but I could quite happily sink a few of these.
It’s medium bodied and refreshing, a classic British IPA, not as hoppy or aromatic as an APA. I would happily give this three and a half stars.
OKELLS AILE – Celtic Smoked Porter – 4.8% ABV
Bizzarely ‘Aile’ is the Celtic word for ‘fire’ according to the labels of this brew, adorned with a flame-headed maiden astride (or maybe embracing) a dragon.
It pours dark, very dark, darker than that – midnight black, with a rich, mocha coloured head that disperses reasonably slowly. The head’s not as tight as some stouts or porters, but exudes off a wonderfully smoked, coffee nose.
It’s medium bodied – personally I prefer my porters to be a bit chewier – but this works, not as light as a dark lager, nor as heavy as a stout, but you know you’re drinking a beer of substance.
The flavour is smokey, again not as smokey as a rauchbier, but the smoke is there. And it’s a real smoke flavour, there’s no hint of smoked bacon or ham in here, it’s honest to goodness woodsmoke, backing up the rich roast coffee flavours which gently subside to dark liquorice, and then a final hop bite.
Looking at my notes, I wrote ‘balanced’, this is a characteristic of this brewery’s brews. They balance complex flavours really well to produce a brew that’s full of flavour. They’re good these guys.
This one rates four stars, no question.
So, all in all, having tasted four different brews from this brewery, I would suggest that this is a brewery that really knows its stuff. Their beers are refreshing, full flavoured, interesting and well balanced. The chances are you won’t find any of these outside a real specialist beer shop, unless you’re ever fortunate enough to visit the north-west of England or the Isle of Man.
But who knows? I suspect that it’s not a coincidence that three out of the four Okells beers I have tasted get a mention in the recently published 1001 Beers You Must Taste Before You Die. I’m sure that the 1907 brew would have made it in if the editors had managed to grab a bottle. I’m due to meet the editor in a couple of weeks and might save him a bottle. Or maybe not!
Anyway, if you ever see a beer on the shelf bearing the Okells name then go for it. You won’t be disappointed.
Bob the Brit