There some beers that you want to like, but you just can’t. Both of these were near-misses, for me, so I lessened their Diary-polluting effect by consolidating them into one entry.
Pinot and porter are usually a great match — Hallertau do a wonderfully-mad ‘Porter Noir’ with barrels home to the usually-wild Brett yeast, and the Dux de Lux did a very nice (more ‘normal’) take on the same a while back. I like Tuatara’s Porter, but maybe it wasn’t ‘heavy’ enough to survive its time in the barrels — it had thinned out a lot, to the point that I didn’t like it at all when we had it flat from the handpull. It was decent when we had it on the regular taps, the lower temperature and the bubbles helping to hold it together, maybe. But here, pouring through a hopinator full of cherries, there was just too much going on and the porter wasn’t big enough not to be overwhelmed. The three sets of flavour — porter, pinot, and cherry — were just all too mild. First thing in the morning, after stewing overnight, it was at its best — but it was just all cherry, then.
And then, after Croucher’s enjoyably-odd ‘October’ IPA, ‘Mrs. Claus’ was a real disappointment. They were going for a Christmassy spiced-up Scotch ale, and I do like my spicy beers and my Scotch ales — but something just went wrong here, for me. Maybe it was just too cinnamonny, or maybe it just wasn’t at all suited to the handpull we had it on — it is tasting better, now that we’ve gassed it up and cooled it down a bit. But I wasn’t able to shake the feeling that I already knew a lovely fruitcakey beer in Renaissance’s stupidly-lovely ‘Stonecutter’, and this just couldn’t compete.
(Weirdly, one of the guys from the Arrow Brewing Company was in the bar on the night I’m writing this up — 28 January 2011 — and so I was reminded that they made an out-and-out Christmas Cake beer too. They had it at Beervana 2010, and Halena and I loved it to bits — it being the only thing we could think to have to follow Dogfish Head’s surprisingly-awesome Punkin’ Ale. So yeah; the offerings from Renaissance and Arrow make ‘Mrs. Claus’ doubly redundant, sadly.)
Verbatim: Tuatara Porter (Barrel-aged and with cherries) & Croucher ‘Mrs. Claus’ 29/12/10 two near misses, on a very quiet day. George keeps harrassing me for ‘dislike’ entries, so here’s one. These are real let-downs. The porter was nice enough on the bubbly tap, un-cherried, but here’s just too much at once, for a beer that lost a lot of body in the barrel. That made it limp + horrid on handpull, and here it just makes it too weak to stand up to all this tart + sour fruit. ‘Mrs. Claus’ is a stab at a ‘Christmas Cake Ale’, and is a spcied 6% scotch ale. I like their beers, but this fails to follow Stonecutter’s goodness — cf Emerson’s Southern Clam & Three Boys Oyster — if you can’t stand up to something already existing, don’t bother. It’s very metallic, too — tastes like the handpull hasn’t been cleared, though it has. Unpleasant, like being stabbed with a cinnamon-edged rusty old knife.