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2nd May 04 - Coopers Sparkling Ale, Oakham JHB, E&S Beyond the Pale & Tesco Beaujolais

Coopers Sparkling Ale

Like some sort of crazy Liberace figure, but without the rhinestones. fur and campness, and with a fantastic shop crammed full of exotic beers instead of a jewel-studded glass grand piano, this week, I'd like to return to the classics. Perhaps the greatest classic in all the world of brewing.

I've yet to come across a beer with so much character, one that consistently satisfies, as Coopers Sparkling Ale (5.8% abv). With its double sediment (one fine, one chunky), its macho screw-off top, fruity aroma and chunky pear-and-banana palate, this ale screams class from start to finish.

I've been drinking it fairly clear lately, straight from the understair beer-hole, and it's a lot lighter and more delicate than with the sediment added. Almost the sort of think that you could fool your lager-drinking mates into trying by saying that the haze was added vitamins, and it will make a man (or woman) of them. Still a four star classic.

Oakham JHB

I finally came across a bottle of this multi-award winning ale (this seems to be the best website about the brewery) and, by golly, very nice it is too.

The familiar hoppy citrus / grapefruit aroma (Challenger, I would guess) won't come as too much of a surprise to fans of this style, but is still a pleasant surprise to many. The light, clean palate and persistent grapefruity after taste, while still quite bitter, has a simultaneous palate cleansing and palate priming quality to it.Very moreish, and I'm looking forward to seeking it out on draught.

E&S Beyond the Pale

Another brief session in the excellent Arcadia, another great beer. Beyond the Pale (4.2%, if memory serves) is a pale, aromatic ale, with lots of mouth-watering citrus and elderflower aromas, and E&S's trademark bitter hoppy aftertaste. As with E&S's other beer, I find the finish almost too pithy. If anyone has a similar opinion (or any other), I'd love to hear from you ('Contact' button to the left)

Tesco Beaujolais

Finally, a quick line in praise of Tesco Beaujolais (the cheap stuff, not their 'Finest' range). For 3.79, you get a pleasing hit of red summer fruit and a woosh of alcohol. Twenty minutes in the fridge, half a bottle in the coq au vin, share the other half out and, mon dieu! Nous sommes en France!

The phrase 'cheap and cheerful' is often used to denote a bargain with flaws, but this is the real thing. Go forth and drain the shelves.


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