Another Friday and another episode of cheery welcomes at the highly acclaimed, world renowned Morris Beer Store. Lucky for me, Gail, the beer maven was there and she was all smiles and seemed to levitate about two inches above the floor. We discussed last week’s choice of Goose Island’s Pere Jacques and I damn near came out of shoes exclaiming how wonderful that beer was.
Gail ushered me up and down the aisle pointing out which beers are new and directed me towards the Sam Adams section. I scanned the sixpacks of Sam and then the Leinies to the right. Gail attended to a customer and I was left to decide what to buy, what to taste, what to experience.
I wanted to turn Fridays into a Sam Adams taste thing, both for myself and for the readers. After all, Sam is now America’s largest beer maker. I checked ’em again. For some reason, I wasn’t in the mood for Sam today. Down the aisle I scanned and I snatched a sixer of a beer I’d been looking for and neglecting for quite a while. That’s for tomorrow.
Up the aisle and then back down. Right in the middle I stopped. Hmm. Every week I see this same beer and every week I pass it by. It’s a brown ale and it’s in a shorter style bottle. But the bottles are clear glass. (??!!) The back of the label says that they’ve been brewing this beer since 1927. But by contrast, the front of the label says, “The One and Only” and “Drink Cool.” What the hell. I grabbed the sixpack of Newcastle Brown Ale and made my way to pay respects at the register to the tune of $8.49.
Work let out early on Friday and before I knew it, there I was sitting at the computer with a cold bottle of English brown ale and plenty of time to spare to drink it and write about it. Let’s jump in, shall we?
Into the glass and up it came with a nice foamy head. The liquid had a deep reddish brown color to it but the carbonation was minimal. The aroma was slight with a tinge of beeriness to it. The first sip was absolutely unique in that it was a melding of beer flavors. I couldn’t nail it down in one sip because there was so much going on here. At first I got the sweet darkness of the malt up front and as the beer transferred to the back of the throat and went down the hoppiness sprung up for a slight jolt of bitter. Then it went away as if it never existed. That fact made me want another sip.
All the way through the first glass I was surprised at how the two flavors offset one another with each sip. As my mouth became accustomed to the new tenants the drink mellowed out and became quite delightful to the taste. The sweetness come forward up front more pronounced and the bitterness sort of just blended in. Each sip thereafter was pleasant and delicious. The taste of this beer is less typical of the Guinness style dark bitter beers than I thought it would be. It’s more of a genteel English ale, if you will. (Tea, with two lumps, please, Jeeves.) In the intermission between the empty glass and the trip to the fridge for another, my mouth thanked me for the experience.
Newcastle is a good beer. It’s a beer that I think would be best enjoyed during a poker game or a good game of darts or pool with the guys. It’s the sweetness up front and the bite in the back that especially suits this beer for manly activities. It would be perfect for someone’s 21st birthday gift. Neither the sweet nor the bitter will put off even the first time beer drinker and you could quite possibly equate this to an education in a bottle.
Taste: B > A nice blend of work and play.
Smoothness: B- > A slap to the uvula from left to right.
Drinkability: B > Easy going down like a spring rain.
Bang for the buck: C > Manly beers require manly prices.
(Note: My wife has to work on Saturdays. Consequently, she doesn’t think it’s wise to
drink sip beer the night before work. And besides, she’s already sleeping now. The Friday reviews, when they occur, will not offer the Wife’s All-encompassing Opinion. I hope you understand.)