I don't usually drink on a school night. It's bad enough these days having to suffer a full day of work, but adding a hangover on top of that is just a recipe for disaster. That and the fact I have to drive to work make it a definite no-no. I even draw the line at one beer, as it inevitably leads onto another and another and... you get the picture. Which may be why it's a bit of a surprise that I'm writing this review today (Monday) about a beer I drank last night. Shock horror.
Alright, so that last statement there is only part of the full story. I actually drank one of these beers on Saturday evening, whilst watching the rugby. But, as I was in the pub at the time, I wasn't able to record any of my thoughts on it, bar a quick one liner on Untappd. And as I enjoyed it so much, I thought that it deserved more than that, so I sought it out yesterday on a trip to my local Morrison's. And that about brings us up to speed.
Now you've already read the headline for this article and you've seen the (awful) photo that's been partnered with it (I'll sort that later - just needed something to stick in as a placeholder just now) so you know that the subject of today's review is Sharp's Brewery's Doom Bar. And you're probably thinking 'Andy, didn't you review another of Sharp's beers recently? Are you on the take or something?'. And you'd be right (about the previous review - not about being on the take. I can't be swayed by beer. Much...). I did review Sharp's Seven Souls a few weeks ago and if you recall, I bloody loved it. And here we are, another Sharp's review and, as it happens, another cracking beer. And no, they didn't pay me to say that either.
The weird thing is, I feel like I've definitely tried Doom Bar before. I've definitely seen it about, but I've got no record of it on Untappd (the font of all beer knowledge) so as far as I'm aware, this weekend is the first time I've had it. And I've got a random encounter with Seven Souls to thank for that, as it's turned me onto Sharp's beer in a big way - to the point where I can feel myself unconsciously looking for their ales when I'm standing at the booze section.
But, as usual, I'm getting ahead of myself here. I haven't actually talked about the 'beer' so far in this 'beer' review. Actually, hang on - just one, quick, random thing about Sharp's beer; those bottles. Man, I love those bottles. I can't quite describe what it is about them that I like so much, they're just rather cool. I think it's maybe the width of the bottle - with a regular 500ml bottle, I sometimes feel like I'm going to drop it as I can't quite grip it properly. With Sharp's bottles, which are narrower but slightly taller, I don't have that problem. Anyway, sorry, back on track...
So, the beer then. As I said, cracking stuff. It pours a lovely clear golden amber colour (or 'caramel' as my wife said) with minimal foam on top, which is fine by me. And when I say clear, I mean it - it is ridiculous how clear this beer is. I have no issue with a cloudy beer, as long as the flavour is there, but I need to give a shout out to the Sharp's guys and gals for a job well done here. There's some grade A, top-drawer filtering going on down there in Rock.
Once you've poured the beer into a suitable glass, it's time to get stuck in. Doing the poncy bit and sticking the old conk (easy tiger) into the tumbler, you get a fresh hit of hops and a sweet, malty aroma, almost like caramel or toffee. There's also a definite fruity smell - to my nose, almost like grapes or raisins. Like the liquid itself, all clean and fresh and - and I mean this a compliment - almost like a good quality lager.
And onto the taste test, all the flavours seem to match the aromas. There's the zippy, bitterness of the hops - tart, but not overpowering, there to take the edge off the sweet maltiness. There's also the taste of fruit coming through too - this time, it's definitely more like dried fruit than fresh, like Christmas cake or fruit cake or something of that ilk. It reminds me of two other beers I've had fairly recently too - Adnams Broadside, another great beer which has a similar fruitcake like flavour to it - and Black Sheep's Halloween-themed beer, Reaper, which has the same crisp, clean almost wine-like flavour and texture to it and which I liked a lot.
Like Seven Souls, this is also a really easy drinking beer, going down far too easily. The fizz tickles the back of your throat, rather than removing a layer of skin and the fresh flavours satisfy your beer urge, as well as quenching your thirst. This would be another great beer for the Summer (if it ever arrives), although it's just as good on a cold Sunday evening in front of the fireplace (I can attest to that). Maybe the cool bottle isn't just for show and helps you sink the bottle quicker?? If so, good show Sharp's!
Hopefully I've done the beer justice here. I think this reviews a bit all over the place, but that may just be because my brain is a bit all over the place today. It feels like I've said this in most reviews so far this year, but if 2018 keeps up this pace and continues to throw good beers at me from every direction, then BOTY 2018 is going to be one hell of decision to make. Top beer.