Are You Tasting the Pith? - 5th June 05
I loved the bottled beers that Brakspear brewed before their brouhaha-mired closure and relocation. Their Vintage Henley (5.5% abv) was an absolute beauty - softly nutty, slightly caramelly, and bittersweet. I can still conjure up the aftertaste in my mind, even though it's at least a couple of years since I had my last hoarded bottle. Mind you, I've never been a fan of their Live Organic (4.6% abv), and that's won shedloads of medals. Still, I can't pretend to be objective, another reason that you should take everything I say as an absolute truth.
Anyway, I suppose this is a rather long-winded way of saying "Cor, Brakspears, lovely", and indeed, this is the sentiment that came washing over me after my first sip of their new beer, Brakspear Triple (7.2% abv). Modelled in part on a Belgian triple, although only technically rather than stylistically, it's medium dark, with a lacy head. The beer gives off a powerful but balanced aroma - toffeeish malt, pithy hops, and pale stone fruits predominate. In the mouth, I found it be superbly balanced and rounded, with the strength hidden remarkably well, which you might either see as a flaw or a bonus, depending on your predeliction for being caught unawares on all fours baying at the moon. The classic Brakspear balanced, nutty bittersweet finish to which I alluded in my introduction is still there, and still immediately recognisable as a Brakspear beer. The tasting note on the back of Vintage Henley used to allude to the use of Fuggles hops as imparting "drinkability", and this beer has that characteristic in spades.
A very firm recommendation to try, and if you can, I bet it will age nicely too, settling down and drying out a bit after a year. That said, I'm not sure I'll be able to resist that long, and coming as a man who has all manner of fine beers in his beer hole (that's an understair cupboard, not a body cavity), this is high praise indeed.
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