Friday, 25 January 2013

REVIEW #119: Manchester Star Ale (J. W. Lees)

Comes out dark reddish-brown with an ephemeral, sandy coloured head. Smells musty and malty, a lot like a mild, there's also wet grass in there. Up front comes Créme caramel and suggestions of rum and blackcurrant, with light cracked pepper, warm savoury spice and a burnt sugar bitterness blended into a grainy finish. Heavy bodied - thick and foamy - and softly carbonated. Alcohol is very well hidden. Not overly complex but rich and satisfying nonetheless... One of the main draws of ale for me is the fact that it's been an integral part of English history for such a long time. Drinking a porter such as this, which is brewed to a recipe dating 1884, is like stepping back in time; its a unique sensation. I mean when supping this sort of beer its hard not to imagine being in a thatch-roofed tavern, handing a burly barkeep a few bob in return for a jug of his best murky ale slapped onto the solid oakwood counter in front of you. Or is that just me?!

And returning to reality... Manchester Star was runner-up at the Sainsbury's Big British Beer Hunt 2012 and I should imagine it ran Bateman's Mocha beer very close. J. W. Lees have been an independent brewery based in Manchester since 1828. Other notable beers of theirs include their annually released and wonderfully strong (11.5%!) Harvest Ale, intended for bottle-ageing. Also Moonraker, a 6.5% old ale. The latter is highly recommended and easily to get hold of, being stocked by Morrisons (I need to do a review). For what its worth, Moonraker is reminiscent of Highgate's equally good Old Ember, however Highgate Brewery is now owned by Davenports I believe and I'm not sure if that particular beer has survived the transition.
  • IBU: ?
  • ABV: 7%

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