Monday, April 21, 2008

Otter Head Ale

I saw Otter Head Ale at the World Beer Festival last fall, and importer Jim Lientz (that's him holding the beers on the right) was very excited to have me try it. I'm not sure why, cuz at 5.8% ABV, it's sure not a session beer, but it was quite nice. We exchanged cards, and he said he'd send me a sample. Which he did, and...I put it in the fridge. That was in December.

When the fridge died two weeks ago and we had to get a new one -- a very nice black one with a fast ice-maker -- I came across that bottle. Whoops. I put it up front to be sure to drink it, and tonight was its turn.

Otter Head is an English strong ale, and it tastes it: it's solid and malty, a mouthful that puts me in mind of Young's Old Nick, a big beer that tastes like it could easily go higher than the ABV it is. I've seen people say it's not very hoppy, but I disagree: it is, but it's not Cascades or Centennial, it's Fuggles and Challenger, hops that a lot of the American geekerie just don't get, or even know how to notice (please, before you make a bunch of "I do too!" comments...I said "a lot," not "all"; assume I was talking about someone else. I probably was. As far as you know.), and they're very, very nice here.

But the malts are the stars, and no surprise: the label says they're using both Maris Otter (natch!) and Golden Promise malts, the favored malts of finicky Brit brewers (or so we've been led to believe). This is finely layered stuff, and the low carbonation really brings it all out. I long to try this on cask, I can only imagine what it must be like alive.

Definitely worth a spin. I don't know why people always talk about all the beers with dogs in the names and on the labels: I'm liking hell out of otter beers lately (tip o' the hat to the Gilded Otter in New Paltz, NY, too: be seeing you guys on my way to the Mondial!).



12 comments:

bill mc said...

You're going to Mondial now?

Lew Bryson said...

Yup, headed up with Jack Curtin.

Alexander D. Mitchell IV said...

You think Otter Head is nice? Wait'll you try Hoppy Otter, the 6.8% IPA version. Label says it has "Barley, wheat, oats, rye, and spelt" and "five of the US Pacific Northwest's most citrus-flavoured, aromatic whole cone hops". Between Otter Creek's "world tour" and the British Otter, it's a great time to be an otter fanatic. Now, all we need to do is add Frisky Ferret of the UK to the mix.........

Lew Bryson said...

Ah, yeah, I forgot about your otter fetish, Sandy. But do I really want an Otter IPA? I'm not so sure...

Sid Boggle said...

I remember trying to find the brewery while on holiday in Devon some years back. A local supermarket sold the beer in bottles (including a lager). Never did find the brewery, but the beers are solid.

ADM IV (Sandy?) - did you mean 'Fursty Ferret'?

Anonymous said...

You going to lecture or just visit?

Lew Bryson said...

I'm not lecturing at the Mondial, no, just attending.

bil mc said...

HHHmm, I'll be there that weekend as well, like to buy you a beer if I may.

Lew Bryson said...

I'll be there Thursday and Friday, Bill; I'd like to meet you after all these comments! But we can buy each other beers, I don't want to get behind.

Deuane said...

Alright...Lew at Mondial! Carolyn and I will be there too. We also will be arriving on Thursday, after spending Wednesday in Burlington, VT with some friends.

We will be there Thursday thru Sunday....doing it all!

So, sounds ike we need to have a get together...us, Lew and Bil Mc.

I see an evening enjoying the wonderful brew of Dieu de Ciel in our future!

Alexander D. Mitchell IV said...

Deuane: Dieu de Ciel just showed up in Baltimore's market (translation: Max's Taphouse, soon to be at Wells and Perfect Pour).

Lew: as for Hoppy Otter-- http://beerinbaltimore.blogspot.com/2008/03/hoppy-otter.html

Deuane said...

To Alexander...thanks for the tip regarding DDC beers....it is here in PA too....I have a little collection of all their offerings here at the house.

Looking forward to what I cant get in a bottle up there and FRESH(er) too!