Reviewing beer online is a bit like punching fog, or herding cats. It can sometimes seem like an impossible task, where identifying a unique or interesting beer among the myriad of brands out there, can feel a bit like battling against the law of diminishing returns. I mean sure, drinking beer is great and I really shouldn't complain about the process of seeking out new ales to try. But there's only so many IPAs you can write about before you realize that - whisper it - they all sort of taste the same and there's only so many ways you can spin the words of a review to make it sound different from the forty articles that preceded it...
"Reviewing beer online is a bit like punching fog, or herding cats."
Now, I may sound like I'm getting jaded with all this beer malarkey. Far from it - I still get a tingle of excitement when I find a new, untasted beer in a shop I've been in a thousand times previously. To find that - far from bursting - the craft-beer bubble is still expanding and that the possibility still exists to find a diamond in the rough, is incredible.
(Consider the previous two paragraphs as my continued apology for the lack of content on the site recently.)
So there still seems to be an almost infinite number of beers out there for myself and Scott to drink. An almost infinite number of beers that we can then wax lyrical about on here. But, despite this, there is still a huge scope to end up drinking an ale that makes you stop for a minute and think "This reminds of something else...".
And if Broughton ever read this review, let me just allay their fears by saying that, despite the preceding paragraphs having some negative sounding connotations to them, I really liked this beer. So rest easy and get back to work, ya bunch of skivers.
"And if Broughton ever read this review, I really liked this beer."
The idea behind Double Ale itself is really intriguing. Two separate beers - a strong ale and a porter - are brewed independently of each other. Once these are finished fermenting, the resulting ales are blended together to form one mind-blowing beer - hence the Double Ale moniker. It's a really interesting way to create a beer and although it's probably not a unique process in itself, it definitely is quite rare and isn't something I remember coming across prior to trying Broughton's brew. I guess it's sort of similar to the way the whisky industry mixes different single malts together to create a new blend. And the beer this process creates is something special.
To briefly go back to the point I made in the first paragraph of this review, it can sometimes feel like, despite the vast number of beers that are available these days, that you can end up drinking a lot that are really, really similar in taste. And that's to be expected I guess - there are only so many ways you can mix malted grain, water and hops together, before you get some crossover between ales. It's sort of like music - Frank Zappa once said that "All the good music has already been written by people with wigs and stuff" - meaning that there's only a finite number of ways you can mix up chords and chord progressions, before you start copying the music that has gone before you. I guess in the same way, beer is the same. At some point, there will be no unique beers around - everything that can be brewed, will already have been done before.
"At some point, everything that can br brewed, will already have been done before."
But not on this occasion, suckers. This time, for my money, Broughton have created a beer that is not only unique, but at the same time also seems quite familiar. Double Ale is a beer that's multi-faceted and as deep as Loch Morar (the deepest of all the Loch's, donchaknow?). It's dark and mysterious, where every sip presents a different part of the character. In conclusion, it's just really, really good.
And I mean that when I say every sip is different. You might get a massive dark, malty hit one minute, then the next there's a smoky, almost peaty character revealed. There's a sweetness there too - a sort of caramel/toffee flavour, with a vanilla-like backdrop. At times, it almost tastes like a rum-finished beer too - something like the Innis and Gunn ale that's conditioned in rum barrels. That rum-like nature to it is even more evident in the way it tingles slightly on the tongue, spicy and hot. And the way it slips down the back of the throat in an almost spirit like way, warming you as it goes. It's only 5.6% ABV, but it definitely tastes stronger than that modest number would suggest.
As unique as the idea behind Double Ale is - and as unique as the tastes seems at first - it does remind me of a couple of other beers. The Innis and Gunn Rum Cask Ale mentioned above for one, but also of Orkney Breweries superb Dark Island ale. Much like Double Ale, Dark Island is also dark and mysterious and full of character, albeit without the rum-like edge that Double Ale has. If you remember my review of Dark Island (go and read it again if you don't), you'll recall that I really, really like that ale too. So it goes without saying then that I'm going to really, really like this ale as well.
Champion Double Ale is something a bit different, but at the same time, something that's really familiar. It has bags of character, great flavour and on these ever darkening autumn evenings, it warms and comforts the body. If the Wanganui kiwi pale ale I reviewed yesterday was good for your health (owing to the fruit in it), then Broughton's Champion Double Ale is good for the soul. Drink them both together - like I did on Sunday night - and you'll probably live forever.