Are You Tasting the Pith? - 12th December 04
This brew from the Tadcaster stalwarts is a limited-volume, seasonal release, brewed every year to the same (excellent) recipe, and, as the press release states in typical taciturn Yorkshire fashion "this years release features carol singers on the centre panel of the label". Now, you have to be pretty sure that what you're doing is good in order to make a song and dance about the artistic merits of the label, but, as usual, Samuel Smith pulls it off with disconcerting ease.
While the extra percentage point of alcohol takes care of the winter aspect of the beer (its a coppery gold colour, so isn't a dark winter brew), the quality of the ingredients shine through. The lovely soft nose, with a vague hint of greengage maltiness, sets the taste buds racing, and the soft mouthfeel, gentle maltiness and spicy (mace, nutmeg) hop finish make this a dangerously moreish brew. I'm almost ashamed to say that I went back to the shop and bought all the remaining stock we had after reaquainting myself with this great beer, so sorry to any prospective customers who have been disappointed.
Another seasonal brew, from the other end of the country, but with a similar flavour profile. However, Humbug has a lot more malty, nutty sweetness in the aroma (although, as we always remind you, you can't smell sweet), which carries over into the palate. The finish is softly milk chocolatey, with something a bit christmas puddingy about the whole affair - spices, dried fruit, nuts? Not sure which, but it is a definite christmas ale.
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