* Prices may differ from that shown
I've decided to take a new approch to my beer reviews. While most of them are done in recent reflection, to bottled or pulled, I've never reviewed a beer as I've drank it. I'm going to challenge myself from now on to buy a beer bottle a day (to keep the....liver away?) that is reviewable, may it be ale, lager or cider. I will then review it from the bottle itself to the final dregs. Hopefully this will give a clear, and more intensive review that is ultimately more helpful.
THE BREWER AND THE BEER:
Badger, owned by Hall and Woodhouse, have popped up before in my reviews in the name of 'Tanglefoot.' As a brewer they have quite a rich history and a large selection of beer both full-time and seasonal. I find them one of the most reliable bottled brewers out there and am always willing to try a drink from them. This led me to pick out Golden Champion for today's review. Advertised as a refreshing summer ale, originally part of tesco's 1998 summer beer challenge (credit to tange's review for this information) this was eventually declared the winner and is now sold, I assume, every year.
The bottle itself is simple enough. It has a shield like label that is orange and yellow in colour. Inside the shield at the top is the traditional badger logo, and just underneath is the beer name 'Golden Champion' with Champion in large letters. Below that is the phrase 'delicately strong and refreshingly light' that alludes to the ABV of 5% (strong for a summer beer) as well as hinting at the flavour. The back informs us of the use of elderflower as a key brewing ingredient so we know what to expect. It also lets us know this is considered a light, golden ale (although we should know that as it's a summer ale)
The bottle itself is made from dark glass, ideal for protecting the beer from the suns ray's, lessening the chance of the beer being compromised.
Not much to say here. It's a 5% beer, as mentioned before, so strong for a summer ale. This at least lets us know that the flavour my be potent and weighty despite its floral implications.
POURING & COLOUR:
I start by pouring up to the half pint line on my glass (thank you beer festivals) and am greeted by a large, frothy head that clings to the glass as it subsides. I notice quite a few carbonated bubbles in the glass but that is to be expected from bottled beer that is not cask conditioned (often playing a big factor in flavour)
Once the head is down I pour out the rest of the bottle. With the head it reaches just past the pint level to the top of the glass, the actual beer sitting nicely a fingers width underneath the pint marker. I find this is a good amount for the 500ml bottle (I have sometimes had a 500ml bottle that has given me only 3/4 of a pint!)
The colour when held up to the light is slightly darker than I first envisioned, but still light golden although not as light as other such summer beers as summer lightning by hopback.
After letting the beer settle for a moment, I take a deep inhale of the beer. I also realise that I am truly a beer nerd. The smell is more subtle that I first envisioned, although the bottle does say 'a hint of elderflower' so I guess it makes sense that it took me a while to get it. The most overwhelming smell is of general fruitiness. The sweetness is very obvious, and I can tell off the bat that this isn't going to be a beer ruled by its hoppiness as so many summer ales are.
THE FIRST SIP:
I take a nice, big sip and let it swirl in the mouth for the moment. I am immediately greeted by a pleasant freshness that is mixed with fruity bitterness. The elderflower is much more apparant here, and I feel myself reminded of a less floraly version of badger's 'golden glory,' something I am happy with as I find that beer a bit too much on the floral side.
After swallowing I am greeted with a lingering sweetness that stays longer than the bitterness does. It has all the trademarks your classic summer ale. It's too early to tell if the 5% ABV will become apparant in taste or weight, so time to finish the pint.
HALF WAY DOWN:
The beer is lighter than I thought it would be for 5%. The taste of elderflower has become much more powering, although not unbearable, which can happen with a lot of beers centred around something of this nature. The sweetness is becoming almost tangy, but the flavour is still crisp and pleasant. Apart from a couple of solitary bubbles, most of the carbonation has dissapeared, or dissolved, or whatever. The taste has not leant itself to tht pressurised taste that can often occur with bottles due to the nitrogen bubbles.
THE FINAL DREGS:
As I finish the beer, I am wary of the now prominent elderflower that seems to masks virtually everything else. This is not a bad thing though. The taste has not gone stale (drank over a period of 30 minutes) and is still refreshing, if not more fruity and almost zesty now. The bitterness is entirely gone, which is slightly dissapointing. However, the sweetness is still there, and the final dregs cling that sweetly taste to my tongue.
Overall, this is a very satisfying beer. I feel it was marketed correctly, something which you cannot take for granted with ale as taste of such things is very subjective once past the key tastes. The floral aroma was minimal but enough to be enjoyed. The elderflower was an interesting choice that I felt worked well. The ABV seems a little steep for a beer which does not taste of it or carry the weight you might expect it too. The hoppy aroma is rather minimal, with sweetness and bitterness being the top contenders for taste under the elderflower. The beer finished with no stale stickiness or horrid aftertastes. My only gripe is how the sweetness overwhelms the bitterness as the pint goes on.
I would rate this beer a 7.5/10 on the grand scale. It is a fun, summer beer that takes a rather different approach. The use of elderflower is significant and successfull. I feel the 5% ABV is slightly unjustified (it did not add any weight), although for a single bottle session this does not matter. Along with this, I feel the sweetness towards the end could be overpowering for many. Still, I heartily recommend everyone to try this beer, summer time or not. I'm sure it will be a welcome choice at any ale fans table.
Ah summer, it's just around the corner. Which corner? I couldn't rightly say. But since I'm not a meteorologist, I don't have to.
What I is, is a beer drinker and, dare I say it, a connos...hmm, I can dare to say it - not so sure I can spell it though. Me like beer con mucho gusto.
Right, never mind that. Today I'm reviewing a beer I first drank last summer and never got around to properly documenting. Well, it's nearly summer now, so let's see what all the fuss was about, shall we?
GOLDEN CHAMPION ALE is produced at the BADGER BREWERY (founded in 1777) in Blandford St Mary, Dorset by Hall & Woodhouse Ltd.
Apparently, the badger is a very prominent local animal - hence the name of the brewery. They brew a range of cask and bottled ales, but I'm not going to list them here, or tell you about the brewery. If you want to know any of that, go to: http://www.badgerbrewery.com/
Speaking of badger's, and other animals...
A man went to his mate's fancy dress party with nothing but a naked girl on his back.
'So what are you supposed to be?' the host asked.
'I'm a snail.' The man replied.
'What a load of crap!' the host spat. 'How can you be a snail when all you've got is that naked girl on your back?'
'That's not any old naked girl, mate,' the bloke replied, 'that's Michelle.'
Back to the beer...
"The light, refreshing character of our award-winning golden ale is distinguished by its subtle elderflower aroma, reminiscent of a summer's evening.
Champion is particularly rewarding when served chilled."
CHAMPION pours a pale, golden-yellow colour - clear and bright, with a small white head that quickly shrinks and only leaves minimal lacing on the glass.
The aroma is very fruity - a little orangey, perhaps. It seems a little like cider, but not really of apples (if that makes sense!). It's quite floral too, but since they actually add elderflower essence to the brew, that's hardly surprising. I can also sense a hint of honey, but very little from the malt.
It's medium-bodied and has a slightly fizzy and lively mouthfeel. Taste-wise, it's sharp, tangy and bitter up front, before turning a little sweeter (but not much), and very definitely drier. Again, I'm reminded of cider without apples, but there are lots of other fruity flavours vying for attention: pineapple, lemon and orange. There's very little malt character - perhaps a little sweet, caramel effect, but there's a good perfumey flourish from the hops towards the finish - which is decidedly dry.
* THE VERDICT *
At 5% ABV, this is a very light and sparklingly refreshing ale. It's aimed at the summer market, and I can't find any argument with that. This would be a perfect beer to quench a hot summer's day thirst. Indeed, I can visualise myself sinking a pint or two of this whilst sitting in a beer garden, minding my own business yet minding other people's raucous kids at the same time (as you do).
It would probably go best with light foods such as salads or snacks, but because of the quite prominent flowery and fruity flavours, it might be best on it's own.
I paid £1.79 for a 500ml bottle of this at my local supermarket.
Would I drink it again? - I'd be a
chump not to.
Thanks for reading,
I spend a lot of time outside of the UK and one of the few things I take away with me as a treat, space and customs permitting, is this beer. I know serious beer drinkers who reckon it's the best beer they've ever tasted and yes, on a hot summer day, one or two of these (the first one can disappear very quickly) served very cold is paradise (though the same could be said for any cold and fizzy liquid if you're thirsty I suppose). If you like beer and are interested in quality and character, or even better, if you spend your time drinking chemical garbage that comes out of large factories (like a lot of stuff that's well known), you must try and get hold of some of this. Yes, there are other beers I really enjoy and would praise highly and choose over this one to go with certain foods or circumstances but this is just a belter of a beer.
In the latest of my series of opinions about beers for the summer I am turning to a bottled ale. This beer is produced by the Badger Brewery, owned by Hall and Woodhouse. It was originally produced for Tesco, as part of their 1998 Beer Challenge to find a perfect summer beer, and it was declared the winner - it was classed as the ideal summer brew! It has since been a firm favourite amongst the supermarkets where it is sold (and from those who buy it direct from the Badger Brewery). What is this creation? Golden Champion Ale of course! I won't repeat the brewery information I gave in my previous opinion about their Tanglefoot Ale (a very subtle hint to read it if you haven't already! LOL!) Suffice it to say that they are based in Blandford St. Mary, Dorset and they have been brewing some wonderful beers since 1899. Some names you may have heard of, from their bottled and draft range, include Badger Best (4% ABV), Tanglefoot (5.1% ABV) and (the little brother of Golden Champion) Badger Champion (4.6% ABV). Golden Champion weighs in at a rather impressive 5% ABV; that?s pretty strong for a summer beer - they generally tend to be lighter and weaker than some of the non-seasonal beers (not always, but more often than not they rest around the 4% mark). It?s a strange little creation though, and may not be to everyone's taste...I had heard conflicting reports about it, but I saw it in Tesco and thought that I would give it a try. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, and all that! On opening the bottle (chill it well before hand) the aroma that greets you is quite curious. It's a little flowery, pretty hoppy and almost perfumed. The floral note, I later learned, was from the Elderflowers it is brewed with ? although I did read one rather description that said had the "scent of lavatory cleaner"! A beer made with Elderflowers may sound a little strange, but it is historically actually a traditional ingredient. Brewers in pr
evious centuries used flowers and herbs in the brewing process. This continued until hops became more popular and replaced them as the ingredient of choice. Back to the scent, I also got a fruity, almost citrusy smell that I found rather pleasant. When you have finished sniffing and actually pour the drink you will get a lovely pale beer with a nice frothy head. Looks wise, it is as golden as its name suggests. It is mad from just one type of malt (a pale ale malt), so the flavour is clean and not nutty; this single malt also is what helps to give it the golden colour. The sweetness (maybe a little sickly for some), along with the floral taste make it a little difficult to drink in too large a quantity. It is refreshing, however, and is a really nice summer ale. Taste wise I found it to be not too bitter and I detected the flavour of caramel. The Elderflowers also came through nicely. There is something faintly medicinal in the aftertaste; does this mean that it's good for me and I should try to drink more? It is slightly dry and a little flowery, but with a sweetness lurking too ? a beer that is surprisingly complex, but refreshing and tasty at the same time! Its texture is light and fruity too - a lovely summery drink! I've only had the bottled (and slightly stronger) bottled version, so I can't comment on the draught version (called Badger Champion). The draught is available at selected Hall and Woodhouse pubs; I'd love to try it and will be looking out for it. The bottled version is currently selling on the Badger web-site (address below) at £19.99 for a pack of 12 500ml bottles. This makes it approximately £1.65 a bottle; I would say it's well worth the price. It's a similar price in the supermarkets too...look out for offers at this time of year too! You will find it in a nice brown bottle with a yellowy gold and red label on it. I would recommend Golden Champion as a great choice for a summer's
afternoon. We drank ours nicely chilled at a barbecue; it went really well with our burgers and complimented my special chicken kebabs. We had an excellent afternoon and evening drinking it and we will try to make sure we have one or two bottles in the cool box for next time. I heartily advise you to give it a try...you don't know what you are missing! ~~~BREWERY INFORMATION Hall and Woodhouse The Brewery Blandford St. Mary Dorset DT11 9LS 01258 459953 http://www.badgerbrewery.co.uk/ The brewer web-site. http://www.badgerdirect.com/ The online shop.
Beer is one of life's essentials. Well it is to me anyway; along with shepherd's pie, tea and spring and summertime in the countryside. Have you noticed how wondrous the blossom has been this year? My part of Kent has been positively enriched by some beautiful cherries amongst others of late which looks like it could be marvellous summer. Think long summer evenings sitting outside enjoying good company and just watching the sun slide below the horizon, the scents of the twighlight wafting around you, those final golden rays given extra magificence reflected in the moist sparkle of your lover's eyes...Sorry, I went a bit there, this is a beer op, I do apologise. English summer days and evenings. If only you could bottle it and literally drink in that essence; those suggestions of a country garden; of fruit and flowers and peace. Got news for you, eager readers. They have bottled it, down in Dorset at The Badger Brewery in Blandford St. Mary and it's gorgeous. They call it "Badger Golden Champion Ale". Summer in vitro. Bliss in a bottle. It is. Open a bottle of this and you'll immediately be assailed by a wonderful bouquet of elderflower. I recognised it even before I read the label because I used to have one of these things overlooking my garden when I had one and, although the blackfly and the purple bird lime were a nuisance later in the year, the flowers gave off a lovely scent in the early summer. Michael Jackson, the renowned beer writer not the curious man-child popster, once commented, " Even a single sip set me thinking of fresh, sunny spring days and a glass of beer with lunch in the garden." And even I have to agree with the hugely irritating Jilly Goolden when she said of it on Food and Drink that "It's like sitting by an open window and in streams the garden.." I don't know what they put in it, there are no clues on the official Badger Brewery websit
e (www.badgerbrewery.com) as to even the hops used and I do like to supply technical information if I can because some people care about it, so apologies there, hop fans. What else of it? It comes, in my case, in a chunky brown bottle emblazoned by an eye-catching but rather unattractive, shiny red and gold label with the word "Champion" printed large across the middle. This appellation courtesy of the fact that it won the 1998 Tesco Beer Challenge which must be a very important thing to win in the beer world as it's judged by beer industry peers no less. Open it and pour it out and it even looks like summer as it's a lovely sunny amber colour. You know the smell already so what about the taste? Oh, you'll hate me. Summery.There you go. Well, I'm sorry it's all I can think of. Not at all heavy, it's initially fruity and sweet which then gives way to a slight tannic bitterness. Leave it long enough and the sweetness returns. There is an aftertaste but it is by no means unpleasant, a bit like that left by a sweet cider. But it's that summery feel I can't get over. It'll even go well with a salad, even one of my mum's salads. At 5% ABV it's a medium strong ale but beware, even 5% will creep up and deal you a nasty belt with the back of its hand if you let this beer's subtle delights tempt you into "just" another one. It's widely available in supermarkets and good offies anywhere and at around £1.50 if you're lucky like I was, for 500ml it's pretty good value for a premium beer. Serve it chilled, no more than 12 deg C for maximum effect. Now, those eyes...
Premium strong ale with a light fruity flavour. Subtle elderflower aroma.