Every November, society suspends its judgement and encourages the growth of facial follicles to raise awareness and funds for conditions that threaten many a bloke’s life; prostate cancer, testicular cancer and depression all in the firing line. This is Movember.
With the month of pencils, handlebars and horseshoes in full swing, I thought I’d turn my mo-gazing towards beer.
Coopers Extra Strong Vintage
First cab off the rank is Coopers’ Extra Strong Vintage Ale. A portrait of Mr. Thomas Cooper adorns the label, sporting a crumb catcher of such epic proportions that it would make David Boon insecure. The beer pours brown, with a slight hue of scarlet red (not unlike a great mo’) and the aroma is a delicate blend of crystal malts, noble hops and booze. It’s a heady combo, albeit slightly less intense than expected. The toffee and biscuit malt flavours are there, but I can’t help but feel that I’ve sampled this too early. It’s by no means a bad beer, but needs time to age, for the carbonation to settle, for the malt flavours to mellow and for the yeast to bring out the subtle esters that the style requires. I’d drink this again. Next year.
Williams Bros. Paradigm Shift
The brothers Williams call their Paradigm Shift an ‘enhanced red ale’. I have to admit that when I saw the label – with its trio of Salvador Dali tache’d weirdos staring up at a flying, disembodied rat-goat head – I was expecting something different. Thankfully it didn’t disappoint. The beer pours a beautiful ruby colour, with an off-white head and lacing that never quits. Williams Bros. hail from Scotland so it’s unsurprising that the malt base leans towards the Scotch Ale style rather than that of an American-style red: plenty of toffee, caramel and raisin on the nose. But this is where it gets interesting – it’s been hopped up to the yin-yang with modern varietals, providing a strong citrus and pine aroma that just manages to gel with the malt. The flavour is more of that rich malt base with a touch of roast, some barely detectable chocolate and herbal bitterness. This is a Zack Galifianakis beer: strange, sometimes off-putting, but always entertaining.
Rogue Ales Shakespeare
This beer’s reputation precedes it, and with good reason – it’s delicious. The label features that same dude who appears on a lot of Rogue beers, but here he looks like Tom Selleck in 16th century thespian garb. The beer itself is of course black, but like a Pomeranian puppy it has a thick, fluffy brown head. The aroma is the usual plethora of dark malt and chocolate, with earthy and subtly herbal hop notes layered throughout. Flavour-wise, there’s hint of that roasty, toasty, molasses, coffee and chocolate flavours you expect from an oatmeal stout. Shakespeare is a uniquely American take on this traditional UK style with bolder bitterness and bigged-up hop flavour.
If these reviews have got you feeling charitable you can donate at the Movember Foundation here.