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A review of a summer ale at this time of year? When warm balmy evenings are but a distant memory and darker evenings are the norm? What can I say? I drank this beer a good few weeks ago when it was indeed summer and I've only now got round to putting pen to paper (as it were) to describe the experience. Sue me.
If the pub across the road from my local can display a Christmas tree on September 22 (I kid you not), then I can feckinwell post a review of a summer ale. After all, I'm sure it's still summer somewhere anyway (I know it's not Xmas).
Where was I? Oh yes, the beer.
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to sample a Fuller beer on draught (without visiting London and environs). An opportunity I exploited several times.
Fuller beers are brewed at the Griffin Brewery the oldest in London. It's been continuously brewed on this site since the mid 17th century. It's still a family concern and has won numerous awards for their products. In fact Fullers have won more awards than any other British brewery. You can read more about that at their website.
They brew a wide range of ales which are widely available on draught and in bottles, and most, if not all of them are very good. This review concerns only one, however, and that is Fullers Summer Ale.
They say: "Light, smooth, and refreshing, Summer Ale is pale gold in colour, and at 3.9% alcohol by volume, an excellent quaffing ale. It delivers a flavour most lagers can only dream of, thanks to its all-malt brew (containing malted wheat), and 100% Saaz hops, a Czech variety found in the best pilseners."
This beer pours a darkish straw-yellow colour which is topped by a decent, though not huge, head of fluffy white foam. The head lasts quite well only slowly disappearing to leave moderate amounts of lacing on the glass.
Floral hops dominate the aroma, but there's also some biscuity maltness there too. The Saaz hops give it a very noticeable grassy tone, with some light citrus note in the background.
It has quite a smooth mouthfeel from the gentle carbonation. As for the taste, it's initially quite sweet but not cloying. Again the citrus is present, although a little more prominent than in the aroma. There's a good malt character, with lots of crispy, biscuit-like flavour, and a vague hint of toast. It's also very slightly grainy. The hops don't really give it a lot of bitterness, more a grassy, floral, herbal tone. It finishes a little dry, with a lingering hoppy aftertaste.
At 3.9% ABV, I'm not exactly sure how to classify this beer. It's like a cross between a lager and a pale ale with a touch of wheat beer thrown in for good measure. It's tasty enough, and it's certainly refreshing, not to mention easy-drinking. However, there's just something missing from it for me. Maybe just not enough depth, especially for a Fullers beer. Having said that, it's a good choice for a warm day or evening when you have a thirst on you and don't want to get legless while quenching it. Not a classic, by any means, but a decent enough session ale.
A final thought... What do you call a dog without a bone? Floppy