Saturday, 2 August 2014

Welsh Golden Ales: Otley, Brecon and Celt Experience

A live blogging post last tonight, tasting a few of the more readily available Golden Ales around on the market. (And then it got too late,and I'm sure you've all been there, the post doesn't happen. So this morning it was finished and photos sorted).

Its Pontypridd vs Brecon vs Caephilly.

From Pontypridd it's Otley and their 01, the Brecon Brewing co. 'Gold Beacons', and Caerphilly's Celt Experience with 'Golden'. The Otley is 4% abv, with the other two coming in at 4.2%, all 500 ml bottles and all were bought for about £2.30. Of the three the Celt is not bottle conditioned.

Okay first up.
I love the Celt Experience, I've gushed enough about them in these posts before here.They are about to launch a redesign of their labels, this photo shows the current/old design.
Billowing head at the start, that settles and gives frothy lacing on the sides. Deep golden orange colour, strong citrus, orange and pine aroma.

Great body and this drinks and feels like something so much stronger than 4.2% it must be said. The pine is accompanied by floral bite, and a medicinal/herbal edge too. It reminds me too of my mother-in-laws homemade orange marmalade, juicy but the lingering bitterness that's more  grapefruit than orange, a superb quality beer. Enough gushing??!!!

After amazing me with their Dark Skies III raspberry and vanilla sea salt infused Saison at the Welsh festival, my wife and I stayed in Brecon not long after and I bought a case of their Gold from the brewery which is based on an industrial estate on the outskirts of the town of Brecon town.

Gold Beacons pours again a golden orange although perhaps a little clearer than the Celt beer.
Big pop and smoke on opening, lighter in body than the first beer, a toasty and caramel aroma, with hints of orange and pine.
Light and fruity in the mouth, a light bitterness stays with you, its lighter and more refreshing than the Celt. A great beer, and I enjoyed everyone in that case I bought.

Otley with their great beers and distinctive branding have firmly established themselves as many peoples favourites, they have three pubs in Pontypridd, the Bunch of Grapes being a must visit if your in the area, great food accompanying their beers.

01 opened with little fanfare shall we say, and scant carbonation. Colour is a much lighter gold than the other two, with little lacing from the head.
Now I could tell you that I've had this beer many times, and its dry but fruity, some grass and pine, and quite refreshing. Unfortunately this bottle doesn't seem to hit that description, its got a slight sour aroma and green apple rasp to it, its a duff bottle. A real shame because this is a great beer, usually, as all Otleys beers are.

It did start me thinking though about how long it had been on the shelf in my local Spar shop, I don't see a huge turn around on their 'premium/craft' ales. Perhaps its just been there far to long, it wasn't past its date though. I'm grateful that the owner sells the beers he does, Otley, Kite, Brecon and Celt, I wouldn't get these in the village elsewhere, I'd have to travel a little further out, but if they're going past their best sitting there then perhaps I should exercise more caution and watch the shelves from this point of view.

Coincidentally whilst editing this post this morning Boak and Bailey posted their weekly round-up which included a detailed piece from the Pete Drinks blog on a very similar thread, worth a read if you already haven't.

Under normal circumstances I'd be very happy to drink any of these three beers, the Brecon and Otley are great examples of Golden Ales, and the Celt  is excellent too, even if one foot is in the IPA camp with the superb use of hops in it, and if I'm honest I'd choose the Celt over the other two as my favourite.