A few eyebrows were raised at the prospect of a 12 beer tasting but the goal for the evening was to highlight the subtle differences between the different worldwide lagers and the fantastic variety of styles and flavours available in British real ale. When else do you get a chance to test 12 beers side by side and still remember them?
There was some lively debate, some wild swings in scores, interesting descriptions and fruitful language amongst the tasters. Ultimately the people’s vote was for a LAGER. But hold the groans… it was in fact a dark lager, Bernard Dark.
You could be forgiven for thinking that after a (slightly biased) intro to the natural and hand made qualities of real ale, that we are still primarily a country of lager drinkers. However what surprised everyone was the colour, complexity and depth of flavour (coffee, dark fruits, dry bitter hop finish) which the Bernard Dark was able to impart whilst still maintaing the refreshing quality of a lager, served cold. It truly is a great beer, and has the medals to prove it.
Sharps Brewery’s famous Doom Bar was also voted as the preferred real ale. This is a fair assessment given the light malty sweetness giving it great session-ability and accessibility to all palates. There were a few raised eyebrows at the Innis & Gunn whiskey aged beer and some quizzical looks following the spruce hopped Norseman but everyone was able to find something they enjoyed.
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The match ups were:
Lager: UK, Camden Hells vs Spain, Estrella Damm
Real Ale: Cornwall, Sharps – Doom Bar vs Kent, Shepherd Neame – Blonde Ambition
Lager: South America, Modelo Especial vs Czech Republic, Bernard Dark
Real Ale: Tyneside, Jarrow Brewery – Rivet Catcher vs Yorkshire, Ilkley Brewery – The Norseman
Lager: Czech Republic, Pilsner Urquell vs Germany, Veltins
Real Ale: Yorkshire, Leeds Brewery – Gathering Storm vs Scotland, Innis & Gunn – Original