Many Brits I have met are under the misconception that the only beer available in America is lager, simply because this it what is exported to the UK. While Americans do drink other kinds of beers, these beers tend to be chilled. The first thing I had to get used to drinking beer (and soda and water) in the UK was that it was often warm.
Hogs Back Brewery’s Traditional English Ale is bottle conditioned, meaning the yeast is still active in the beer, and part of the fermentation takes place in the bottle. It is considered “live”– resembling real ale in the cask. The label clearly states “Do not refridgerate” and suggests a serving temperature of 55 degrees Fahrenheit. In California, where I am from, this would probably require chilling of some sort but in England it’s room temperature.
I was skeptical, being a beer-cheat in this one regard. I chill most beers I drink. But maybe it was the cute little pig on the label, or more likely that I was cold from carrying my beer haul home under the ominous grey skies, and I was getting my head around the idea of a warm pint.
And it was without a doubt a revelation. This ale presents you with a full-on toasted nose, a rounded malt middle with a light caramel warmth. Undoubtedly it is this delicate sweetness that would be lost first with chilling, the most charming note. Despite its subtle complexities, it’s balanced and easy to drink, even “warm” (says this American palate).
T.E.A., like it’s namesake that other English beverage, is a come-in-from-the-rain, a welcoming sort of drink. It seems to say, Don’t worry, you’ll dry.
With: springy Comte cheese on an oat biscuit with a smoosh of avocado.
While listening to: Irma Thomas’ It’s Raining