Monday, November 04, 2013

Spirited Away

Spooky Ale
Hallowe'en. It's a funny old thing. It's like beer. No, really. Both were invented in Scotland. Aye, they were. Then neglected. Then adopted and improved in North America, and exported back.

And, like beer, once we're done pouring Hallowe'en through the filter of tradition, it'll be the best in the world. Aye, it will.
But we're not there yet. Case in point: Hallowe'en beer. I bet US and Canadian brewers have done some outstanding Hallowe'en ales. Bet they had ones made of pumpkin and candy and naughty wee trick-or-treaters.

And I'm sure a few British breweries did some perfectly fine, seasonal brews for All Hallow's Eve. Like Bridge of Allan's Allanwater Brewhouse which put on beers such as Dracula's Draught, Black Bat, Bat Blood Cider and a pumpkiny Ale'oween. Good names them.

Well, I missed these, but I did find this Spooky Ale, by Shepherd Neame, when I was out getting the messages.

Don't get me wrong, I loved the label. It's why I bought it, though if we're doing the seasonal critique thing, it's more Jack the Ripper than Tam o' Shanter. Had a nice wee ditty on the neck I liked:

Double, double, boil and bubble
Hops brown & barley stubble.   

Nice wee reference to The Scottish Play. 

Anyhow, the aroma off the bottle was very promising. It smelled: drinkable - a crisp, malty smell. And it poured beautifully too. Maybe a wee bit over-energetic on the bubbles, but, you know, we were both keen to get cosy with each other. Lovely dark red meaty colour to it. Mmmm.

But my first taste was a disappointment. Ever kiss someone you were really, really, really into and they weren't that good at kissing? Well, it was like that.

Tastewise - we're talking beer not snogging now - you get a dry, biscuity flavour off the malts, and the initial prickly mouthfeel gave way to a soft, marshmallow texture. But there was also a sourness on the swallow that was off-kilter with the malty sweetness. Almost like the bitterness came in too early. 

Sure, the flavours were all fine in themselves, but I found Spooky Ale thin and off-balance. Uninspiring. Lacked body. I suppose if you want a seasonal Hallowe'en ale you want something unusual in it. A bit of spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, oomph. Get some of those fruity, harvesty, pungent, autumnal tastes, you know?

To be fair, however, the second one out the fridge went down a treat.

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