We’ve all done it, wandering the aisles of the local supermarket or brew-monger and something catches your eye.
It sounds different enough to tempt your taste-buds, and if it’s from a brewer you know and (mostly) trust, then it finds itself into your basket or trolley.
That’s what happened when I spotted ‘Sticky Toffee Pudding Ale’ on the shelf of my local supermarket. It’s brewed by Charles Wells and, for the most part I’ve enjoyed their brews – Bombardier, Mongoose, Courage Imperial Russian Stout, but probably best not to mention DNA.
And while it’s not a favourite of mine, Sticky Toffee Pudding is a great British Institution, there’s a cool recipe for it here, and I do have a soft spot for caramel.
So, to Charles Wells ‘Sticky Toffee Pudding Ale’, which the brewery describes thus “With toffee and caramel hints and rich fruit aromas, Sticky Toffee Pudding Ale is an intensely satisfying beer.” let’s see.
It pours a rich, burnished copper colour, with a foaming head that fades with unseemly haste. The nose is rich vanilla and caramel toffee, the nose promises much.
Sadly the mouth-feel and flavour lets this brew down a little, it’s just not as rich or ‘chewy’ as it should be. That authentic toffee pudding nose leads you to expect something slightly sweeter and more full bodied.
There are hops in there, old English hops, Fuggles and Goldings, and the overall flavour isn’t unpleasant, it just doesn’t deliver all it promises.
As I said earlier, I have a soft spot for caramel, and indeed vanilla. There’s a gap in the market somewhere for a satisfying sticky toffee beer, maybe along the lines of a Biere de Garde. Sadly this isn’t it, it’s not unpleasant, it’s just not as satisfying as it should be, it’s certainly not “an intensely satisfying beer”.