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I'm a relative newcomer to the world of 'proper' ales, discovering its joys a couple of years ago, but one of the first I tried was Fursty Ferret, and it's one I always pick up when the shops have ale offers on.
Fursty Ferret is brewed by Badger, a Dorset brewery, who tell a romantic tale about this beer:
"At the heart of many a countryside village can be found an inn. A place where locals go to relax after a long day. At one such inn, rumour has it that inquisitive ferrets would sneak to the back door to cheekily sample the local brew."
I'm definitely a fan of lighter coloured ales, and this one has a gorgeous golden-amber colour (tawny amber is the colour named on the bottle). The beer is lovely and clear and lots of tiny bubbles darting up the glass when it's poured. The head is light, not too creamy but doesn't last long, which I found is often the case with bottled ales.
~Taste & Smell~
When it comes to flavours, we are advised that there is a "sweet nutty palate, hoppy aroma and a hint of Seville oranges". Before seeing those notes, and thinking about the taste tonight, I didn't come up with nutty in the taste or oranges in the aroma, but I did think there was something citrusy in there and I definitely got the divine hoppy smell when I opened and poured.
In the taste department, I don't usually like anything too nutty, so I was surprised to see that in there. Having read it, and tried to savour the flavours, and really thinking about it I can see where that comes from, but I definitely wouldn't have said that it was the predominant flavour in the ale.
Whilst I love trying all different beers, when I'm thinking about preferences I always tend to prefer the less bitter ones. This is another reason why I like Fursty Ferret - it has a slight sweetness without being sickly.
As a refreshing beer, this really hits the spot, it claims to be "furst quenching" and it certainly does that. I don't find it fizzy or gassy despite the bubbles, and at 4.4% it's not too heavy to be able to enjoy as a thirst quencher, it's a good "first pint" drink... or should that be "furst" pint?!
~What's in and on the bottle~
The normal bottle sold in supermarkets is 500ml and contains 2.2 units of alcohol. The listed ingredients are malted barley and sulphates. The bottle is recyclable, and the label includes recommended maximum units per day and a note to drink responsibly! It omits to tell you to enjoy it, but in my opinion, that's a given!
I was a bit disappointed to find out that Badger Breweries wasn't actually staffed by badgers, and that they didn't have vats of woodland ale brewing away in a big sett hidden away in the country. Nevertheless, Badger still remain one of my favourite breweries, with their best ale (in my opinion) being Tanglefoot. When I saw Fursty Ferret on offer in the supermarket the other day, I snapped it up as the label had all sorts of ferrets and weasels printed on the label. I also quite fancied a beer, but that was secondary to the marketing really since I'm a bit fascinated by the mustelid family of mammals.
Zoological points of interest aside, this is a very nice ale. I've also chanced upon it on draught, and the bottle doesn't disappoint. Retaining its nutty taste and smell well, cracking this open does whet the appetite and I sampled the bottle on a recent hot summer afternoon, and it went down a treat. A bit of research shows that this beer has picked up a couple of awards over the last decade, including one for best bottled ale somewhere a while ago. It's easy to see why.
It's a pleasing amber colour in the glass, and its sweeter taste invites it to be glugged quite quickly, a quality that lends itself to the title I guess. Whether or not they have actually fed some of this to some ferrets I'm not sure - is it illegal to give booze to pets? In a former local of mine one regular weirdo used to share his pint with his dog (from the same glass - bleeurgh) so I wouldn't be too surprised if it's been tried.
Anyway, the aftertaste is quite a long one, with lots of nuttiness and elements of fruit in there. The ratio of hops to malt is a welcome one, so it's not too cloying or flowery. Whether the second pint tastes as good as the first, I couldn't say, as for me it never does so I don't bother and move onto something else instead (if at all). At 4.4% ABV, this is a slightly stronger than average ale, but not one that's going to send you reeling.
This is currently on offer in Home Bargains and ASDA, though promotions might vary locally. I tend to get most of my beer from Home Bargains, Aldi or B&M, as although the range is often quite limited, they tend to stock things I like at low prices. I picked this 500ml bottle up for £1.20, which was more than reasonable. Cask prices would also vary locally, and you can apparently get it in tins as well though why you would want tinned ale is beyond me.
All in all, a pleasing, well-brewed beer that does indeed slake a thirst. Plus it has ferrets and a badger on the label. Ace.
As I didn't finish work until lunchtime today and what with it being Christmas Eve I decided to have a beer to relax after a particularly tough week this week. Once home it was simply a matter of picking which of the beers in my rather well stocked beer cupboard that I would opt for and in the end I plumped for a bottle of Badger ales Fursty Ferret. It's a beer I only discovered on our trip to Dorset in September but one I have become very fond of, very quickly.
Who Are Badger
The Badger brewery was founded on a farm near Blandford Forum in Dorset by Charles Hall during 1777. Having brewed a few pints to pay his workers he quickly expanded and founded the Ansty brewery, which he named after a small village near Blandford and started to brew ales on a larger scale. In 1847 following his death, his son joined forces with George Woodhouse to form the Hall and Woodhouse partnership which still to this day is the sole owner of the Badger brewery. It was under this partnership that the Badger logo and name were decided upon.
Then in the early 1900's when a new brewery was built at the current Hall and Woodhouse site in Blandford that it too was named after the previously adopted logo and since then it has been known as the Badger brewery rather than Hall and Woodhouse. Unlike a number of the other regional breweries the Badger brewery seems to be able to expand and cover a regional demand without selling out to one of the more affluent City names. The next few years will see further expansion to the Badger brewery with a number of new buildings being constructed on their current site in order to increase production.
What's in a Name
The name of this particular beer is something of a folk tale. The beer was first brewed in the Gribble Inn where it is claimed the local Ferret population used to scratch on the back door of the pub after a taste of the new beer. So distinctive is the scent of Fursty Ferret that they would smell it brewing and want a taste and the name was created. The recipe was bought by Hall and Woodhouse along with the Gribble Inn during 1991 with the pub being sold back to the landlord in 2005 but Hall and Woodhouse retained the brewing rights to Fursty Ferret.
In the Bottle
The first thing that obviously catches your eye with this beer is of course the name. It is a little unusual and the white label on the bottle really stands out against the golden liquid on the inside. As the beer is poured into a glass the first real observation is how amber the liquid in the glass is. When you add a little natural light to the mix it makes the glass glow and the appealing look of the pint really does add to the anticipation of the first few sips.
Upon pouring the beer and letting it settle the aroma of the beer is the next element to really catch your senses after the look of the beer. The aroma has a very strong hint of Hops to it, whilst this is blended with the rather more appealing but very faint scent of Seville oranges. When you combine the appealing scents from the glass with the rather impressive look of the golden pint it is even harder to resist that first taste.
Lifting the glass to my lips the scent of the hops becomes a little stronger but they add a greater sense of anticipation as that first drop of beer passes your lips. I found that just like it's look the taste of Fursty Ferret is quite light and refreshing. There is a very distinct but not overpowering taste of malt that combines nicely with a very nice combination of fruits and a more nutty flavouring. The scent of the Seville oranges becomes more evident as the taste of them appears within the pint. I found the taste to be very pleasant and with that it made this a very drinkable pint that could be enjoyed during a rather prolonged session.
Where Can I Get It
As with just about all of Badger's ales they have managed to get Fursty Ferret in through the doors of the supermarkets and it always seems to be selling particularly well. The main supermarkets often have offers on Badger beers but the normal retail price is between £1.57 and £1.67 for a 500ml bottle, making it a very good quality beer for a very reasonable price. You can also get Fursty Ferret in cans for £5.22 for 4 but I've never tried it from a can and couldn't comment on any difference in taste.
So I Should Try It Then?
Before sampling my first taste of Fursty Ferret I had been told by numerous people that is was a decent pint of ale and with that in mind I had been very keen to try it. Now 4 months later I still enjoy a bottle of Fursty Ferret on a regular basis. It isn't a heavy ale as the flavour and colouring of the pint attest to. It's important though to remember that even though it doesn't look or taste heavy it is still 4.4%abv. It is a very nice pint that I feel lends itself to being drunk all year round and if you like a nice combination of fruit, malts and hops then I would suggest that this is very much a beer for you.