This week I’m finishing up a series on English beers. So far I have tried three barleywines and a nice special bitter to break up the monotony. I decided that I need at least one more session beer to finish the series, so I grabbed a bottle of Bombardier.
The beer this week comes from Wells and Young’s Brewing Co. of Bedford, U.K. The company was formed in 1875 when Charles Wells gave up his life of adventure on the high seas (he was a sailor in the Merchant Navy) to marry his wife. He bought a brewery and a number of tied pubs at auction and began rapidly expanding the operation. The brewery has remained a family operation ever since, and in 2000 it merged with Young and Co. to form the largest family-owned brewery in the U.K.
The beer poured a dark, reddish brown, which faded to a nice honey highlight at the edges of the glass. It was actually clearer than I expected; for some reason I was expecting a hazy beer. The head formed as a finger and a half of very fine, dark tan foam with a pillowing character that reminded me of Belgian beers. The head retention was excellent, and it had quite nice lacing, again reminding me of a nice Belgian beer.
The aroma was wonderful, mostly a dark, malty sweetness. This was complemented by a vanilla character, which also accounted for some of the sweetness, as well as caramel notes and something else, almost citrusy. The mouthfeel was very creamy, reminding me of an oatmeal stout on nitrogen, although it tailed off pretty quickly. The finish was clean, which I very much appreciate after the barleywines the last couple weeks. The carbonation was also quite low, which somewhat enhanced the creamy texture. The taste was quite malty, focusing on melanoidins, but it also had some caramel flavoring to it and was quite sweet overall. The restraint in the dark malts is one of the reasons why I appreciate this beer so much as opposed to beers where they’re overpowering, like in doppelbocks. The vanilla character from the aroma was also included in the taste, and overall it had a nice, light sweetness to it that lasted through the finish. The hop character was definitely also there in a low-level bitterness that lasted through the finish, providing the perfect balance to the sweetness in this beer.
This beer was one of the best session beers I have ever had, and I really don’t think that you will regret trying it. The balance was just perfect, and I could drink a couple pints of this in a night. This will pair well with bar food or some of the more interesting cheeses. Unlike most pale ales, it actually has the malt to stand up to brie. It’s a session beer, so just put it in a pint glass.