The beers of Great Britain cover a vast range of styles, from the mild to the IPA, the Russian imperial stout to the ordinary bitter. The Scottish and Irish lands have their own contributions as well — dry stouts, red ales and unique Scottish ales. This week’s beer, however, comes from the North of England and really is the best example left of its style: Old Peculier.
Old Peculier is brewed by T&R Theakston Ltd., makers of Theakston Legendary Ales. The brewery is one of the few independent breweries left in England, and it is owned and operated by founder Robert Theakston’s great-great grandsons: Simon, Nick, Tim and Edward. The brewery itself is located in the town of Masham, North Yorkshire. Some notes on the Queen’s English are in order: Masham is pronounced as “massem,” with a soft S, and the spelling — “Peculier” not “Peculiar” — comes from the status of the local church directly under the authority of the British monarch instead of under a local bishop.
Old Peculier is a fairly strong, dark and malty ale. This style was frequently brewed during winter months and then held until the summer when it would be blended with lighter beers. I would recommend pairing this beer with thick, heavy stews, strong English cheeses, and sweet fruits such as apples instead of citrus. This beer, like most British beers, should be served in a pint glass.
The beer poured a very dark red color, to the point that it actually appeared brown if light was not shining through it. The red color thinned out to a nice gold where it met the meniscus. The head formed as a single finger of light tan foam with a mixed texture — moderately fine bubbles with a number of coarse bubbles as well. The head settled out within about three minutes but retained a significant ring of foam, perhaps a quarter of an inch thick, around the edge of the glass, and it also left some lacing behind.
The aroma was very malt-focused with a fairly dark sweetness, hints of roastiness and an odd sourness. The carbonation was very low, with a moderate body that lingered on the tongue. The taste was also malt-focused and rather sweet, with hints of apple (which surprised me), a touch of banana, and some biscuit character to the finish.
The malt character makes me think of a mix of caramel and Maris Otter malts, caramelized during the mashing process. The hop profile was quite low, only becoming noticeable for a moment halfway through the tasting and again at the very end.
Overall the beer was fairly sweet, and I found it to be enjoyable, even though it’s not really my favorite beer style. It reminded me of a brown ale crossed with a doppelbock; if that sounds like something you would like, grab one. Hopheads are going to get bored, and people who drink Budweiser, Miller or Coors will complain about how filling it is, but this really is a good beer that deserves a try.