Since we drank Fiddler’s Elbow and Hobgoblin on Saturday, I thought I might pick up Scarecrow Pale Ale, too. The trio of bottles were simply lovely together, and I personally thought that they might have been nice as Halloween beers. Halloween or not, these English Ales are all worthy of a try (or two). Nate has already written the review of Fiddler’s Elbow, so here are the other two.
Scarecrow Golden Pale Ale:
The Pour: As the name implies, the beer resembled the straw-like colors of a scarecrow. There was a small but stable froth of white head that remained atop the clean body.
The Nose: One thing I love about English Ales is the use of demerrara sugar, which almost always lends a particular caramel/toffee/brown sugar tone to the beers. It also serves to lighten the body of a brew while lending plenty of flavor. Besides the sugar tones, I noted a pretty hoppy presence. This was not the citrusy, piney, or grapefruit quality that many American versions of pale have. It took more like a classic British aroma hop. Of course, these are subtle in their citrusy tones, but they almost tend to yield a slight skunky tone. A touch of malt also emerged in the beer.
The Taste: I can’t help but reiterate that British Pales are fairly unlike the more hoppy and overtly aromatic American versions. They are also more restrained in taste for the same reason. Upon the first sip, I knew this was British all the way. The pleasant and lasting bitterness was part of my first impression. Toward the middle of the sip, malts started to come through and meld into the hop bitterness the rest of the way through. The classic touches of demmerarra sugar, which I mentioned above, appeared in a restrained but noticeable manner. Just a bit of malt sweetness ensured that this ale would have great balance.
Overall, this is a delightful brew. In an age where we want crushingly overt flavors, we can become desensitized to a simple and mild brew. I personally enjoyed the refreshment of not having to think about a beer until it hurt. Pick one or two of these up and you might find that you enjoy their subtlety.
Among other English Pale Ales:
I’ll tip my hand from the very beginning: I think that Hobgoblin is the best of the three beers we’ve tasted from Wychwood. I’ve always really appreciated this particular brew and had an opportunity to drink it in England this past summer.
The Pour: This beer is certainly the darkest among the three. The colors that came to mind when I poured the brew were crimson-brown and ruby. Truth be told, it reminded me of a porter, although with more red to it. Hobgoblin had a very nice, white, fluffy head, which was made up of pretty fine carbonation.
The Nose: Plenty of sweet, dark-roasted malt and toffee graced the nostrils when I whiffed this brew. A small amount of hops and breadiness also made their way through the head of Hobgoblin. In addition to the aforementioned qualities was a nice degree of sweetness. Like the others, this beer was not so complex that I feel the need to discover Fujian barking gopher tree tones in it (or whatever obscure and unimpressive thing I might “discover”).
The Taste: There was a nice mouth-feel to this brew, which is important due to the fact that there were some slight alcohol qualities that came through on the taste. Because of the sweetness, roasted toffee type tastes, and powder qualities of the yeast, I immediately put the alcohol to the back of my mind. Also notable were the tones of wood and grapes, which made it seem like I was drinking something more akin to wine.
Overall, this beer is delicious. I could seriously drink it for weeks on end. Not only is it highly drinkable, it’s not overfilling and cloying in its sweetness. Simply great beer.
Among other English Ales: