Old Peculier by Theakston Brewery is an English strong ale coming in at 5.6%ABV. A friend of mine who visits the UK regularly absolutely LOVES this beer. He can’t speak highly enough of it, and you can tell that his spirit starts floating towards the UK whenever he talks about it; he gets that distant, wistful look in his eyes. When he learned of my epic list, he just knew that Old Peculier had to be on there. Needless to say, I have high expectations of this beer, even though I’m told the bottled version doesn’t hold a candle to trying it fresh off the hand pump. Here’s beer number 89 off the epic list – Theakstons Old Peculier.
The bottle says:
Old Peculier sponsors of the Old Peculier crime writing festival, and the labels on the bottle seem more concerned with advertising this fact than with the beer itself; there’s even a 10 word crime novel written on the rear label of every bottle! A small passage hidden in the corner describes the beer as a “Legendary Strong Ale”. It also says that the ale is brewed using both barley and wheat malt and that the beers origins are “long lost in the mists of masham time”. It’s an odd way to sell your product, but I guess it’s been working for them.
The body is a very dark maroon colour, with an electric purple glow around the edges. The head is small and tan, and doesn’t last long at all. The aroma is almost non-existent at the moment; just the tiniest hints of malts and fruit. The beer tastes very dry and savoury across the tongue; these flavours adhere to the back of the mouth before making way for some creamy chocolate and sweet grapes, with some juicy plum in the aftertaste.
The aroma has opened up, with a big fruity nose of plum and blueberry; there’s even a hint of banana towards the end of the glass. On the palate there’s liquorice and fruit skin, followed by a much stronger chocolate. The aftertaste oozes with dark fruit flavours and a little raspberry. The beer has a slightly toasted flavour, but the wheat gives it a lightness that balances it out and keeps everything sweet. There’s also more carbonation than I’d expect from a real ale.
I can see where my mate is coming from, but I definitely need to try this of the hand pump in a traditional Olde English Pub to get the same wistful look in my eye that he has. There are lots of big flavours with fruit & chocolate galore, but the light and dry body allows them to come through in a very easy drinking package. Perfect for the Australian Christmas season? We’ll soon find out…
…but first, I must go and get started on my crime novel.