Being trapped in the UK does, if you’ll believe me, have its advantages. Whilst we might not have the best weather or the nicest people, there’s much to like about life over here. And one of the best things about life in England is beer. Now, I’m not talking about the usual brews like Stella Artois or Fosters – those are lagers, and beer is something else; there’s a huge distinction to be made between the two.
Waggledance Beer, Young’s Brewery, about £1.80 in the supermarket.
England is home to many different varieties of “ale”. Most of them have stupid names such as my chosen brew called Waggledance. I have no idea what it actually means, which is probably for the best – but I do know that it tastes nice.
First thing to notice is the bottle. A tall one. Each one holds a pint of ale, (that’s 568ml for those not brought up on imperial measures) which is a very refreshing sight. I can’t tell you how much I like pints of beer. It’s a decent measure and much more satisfying than a schooner or whatever.
The label on the front makes you think “what on earth is this?”, and there’s a good reason for that. You’ve got a barrel and some bees buzzing around it. Bees? Then you see the script across the front and notice something odd… honey beer. Honey?
Putting aside your thoughts on what makes a good beer, you find the trusty bottle opener and remove the cap with a hefty bit of force. Taking the first sniff, it smells like pretty much any beer – nothing unusual in its nose at all. Decanting it into a glass, the colour is golden rich, a bit like runny honey I suppose. Funny that. Of course, the best way to drink this beer is straight from the bottle but for the purposes of a full and proper review, you can see the colour in all its glory.
Time for the first taste; a small sip. After putting the glass back down, I have to confess I was a little disappointed. Here was supposed to be a boutique English ale and it tasted no more special than XXXX does to lager. But then the aftertaste kicks in, which is where the real action happens.
I’d love to tell you at this point that it was very normal, but it wasn’t. Suddenly, my mouth was awash with the mild taste of honey. Beer isn’t supposed to taste like this! So I grab the glass again and take a good swig of it. Same thing happens, only because I had more, the honey aftertaste is stronger still.
The novelty continues all the way to the bottom of the glass, at which point I find it best to drink the remainder of the bottle (from the bottle) marvelling at the weirdness of it all. Then it’s time for another. But you do have to careful – this beer isn’t your usual weak affair. It’s a full strength brew and knocking on the door of 5.0% ABV, so I can imagine that drinking a few will secure you a superb hangover.
Best served slightly chilled (not quite as cold as lager) and accompanying such foods as lightly salted peanuts or for the more outlandish, another bottle of Waggledance, I’m very much enjoying wiling away the long summer evenings in the company of this hoppy delight from Young’s Brewery.
If you can find any, buy it. If you can’t, an airfare to the UK may prove expensive. I’ll try and bring some back with me when I return to Australia. And drink it all myself.