Saturday 10 January 2009


The work on the gents loos continues. I'm determined to rid ourselves of the title of worst pub toilets in Eskdale. I've just put several buckets of bonding plaster on the walls prior to tiling. My arms ache. Apparently a good plasterer is strong in the arm and weak in the head. I used to be better at plastering when I was younger. My arms are not as strong as they used to be.

So I deserved a beer or two. But what? Ann found a couple of out of date bottles. One was Sheepshaggers Gold 4.5% and was 9 months past it's best before date. I tried it and found it to be quite drinkable despite it being, apparently, past it's best.  Now a beer that is 9 months out of date is likely to be OK. After all, it ought to be put in the bottle in a hygienic way so you have only got potential chemical deterioration and the added advantage of carbonation as a preservative.

The second was a bottle of Cumberland Ale 4.2% which had a best before date of 2004. I did expect this to have problems. I opened it, poured it into the glass and tasted it with trepidation. Actually it was not bad. Very, very different to Cumberland Ale as I've tasted it before. It seemed to be fruity and complex. Cumberland that is fresh is a golden bitter beer with a dry earthy hoppy thing going on. It's a dry hopped beer that has a little pellet of pressed hops put into the cask, at least that's what they told me when I visited the brewery. I enjoyed this aged version and it seemed to have a flavour similar to some Belgian ales I tasted recently.

How do they dry hop the bottle version? Conditioning tanks I guess.

Beer that is past it's best is supposed to start tasting of cardboard. I tried to detect any faint hint of fibrous sheet box fabrication material but failed completely. Funnily enough, towards the end of the glass of Cumberland Ale I thought I could detect a chocolate flavour - is this possible?

I've been given samples of "composted" beers before. Beers that have been laid down for 2 years or more. I thought it only worked in casks with live yeast present, and then only for beers with higher ABV. As far as I could tell neither of these beers are bottle conditioned. Has anybody ever tried out of date beers before?

Stuart at The Prince of Wales regularly puts beers down to "compost". I've tried them and they are really tasty.

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