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Wainwright is an ale brewed by Blackburn brewery Thwaites, named after the author and famous hillwalker Alfred Wainwright, a Blackburn lad himself. His Wainwright's pictorial walking guide books and illustrations will be a familiar sight to anyone who's done any walking in the Lake District and around.
Wainwright ale is a particular favourite ale of mine, and being the regular ale at the nearest pub to where I live, I get to sample it quite often. I love having a 'half' of this at the pub because they have some lovely Wainwright stem glasses to serve it in, and somehow it tastes even better! This weekend, though, I picked up some 500ml bottles from Morrisons where it was on offer at £1.25.
My preference is for lighter ales, and Wainwright fits the bill both in terms of colour and strength. It's a very pale coloured drink, light golden, and it's 4.1% alcohol, which is certainly one of the lighter ones these days.
The notes on the bottle suggests a fruity and citrus smell and a fruity, citric and sweet taste. Being a fan of the less bitter ales, I definitely agree that this is much more at the sweet end of the scale, and as such I find it a really refreshing beer, which will also be attributable to the citrus in there too. I can detect citrus in the taste, after a concerted effort to pick out what I could taste I came up with grapefruity - does that count as citrus?!
From the bottle you don't get the same head as from the pump but there is still a nice white froth on top for a little time and there are a few lively bubbles when it's poured. Being sweet and light I find Wainwright to be an ideal beer for a warmer evening and it doesn't make me feel full or bloated. It's pretty near to being the perfect beer for me.
I have been greatly enjoying the BBC's TV series, Wainwright's Walks. Alfred Wainwright is uniquely associated with the glorious Lake District of Cumbria through the series of books that he wrote describing the wonders of the various walks across what must be without doubt some of the most beautiful landscapes on Earth. Julia Bradbury has been retracing his steps, following his guidance and reading his commentaries along the way.
His chatty, friendly, amusing narratives have guided millions of ramblers to the summits of the various peaks for over 50 years. A memorial to this great man can be found in Buttermere. But now brewer, Daniel Thwaites, based in Wainwright's home town of Blackburn, Lancashire, has produced its own memorial, a Golden Ale which bears his name.
A 500ml bottle of this brew will cost you around £1.80 from most supermarkets which stock it. I got my bottle from our local Waitrose, a good source for out-of-the-ordinary products though a little on the pricey side at that. The bottle carries a label on which is drawn in the typical Wainwright style a picture of our Hero, taking his ease on top of one of his peaks, possibly Haystacks, where his ashes are scattered, and gazing out over the panorama he loved so much.
This is a very reasonable strength beer at 4.1%abv, not quite a premium ale but a little stronger than a session beer. Thwaites describes the beer as a Golden Ale and, pouring it from the bottle, you can see why this might be appropriate. Certainly lighter than a traditional bitter, it is, nevertheless, not as pale as most golden ales, which usually approach the colour of a Pilsner Lager. The strength and colour, though, firmly place this in the category of a drink to savour on a warm summer's day. What a shame we haven't had many recently!
Even carefully poured, the beer generates a decent enough head, which lasts well into its consumption. Careful pouring, though, isn't necessary other than to avoid over-foaming, as this is not a Bottle Conditioned Ale (BCA) and so doesn't contain any yeast residue in the bottom of the bottle.
The immediate aroma is flowery with a hint of citrus. In the tasting the citrus comes through a little more strongly but what is most noticeable is the definite sweetness that is far more apparent than would be found in a bitter or probably even in a typical summer golden ale.
Don't get me wrong, this isn't unpleasant. I don't favour sweet beers but here Thwaites seem to have got the balance absolutely right. Any more and this would have been too much but in the mouth the sweetness recedes and allows the hoppiness and citric acidity to come through. The taste lasts well in the mouth and the aroma envelopes the nose as the ale warms.
This is a beer that I defy anyone to say the don't like. Even me, someone who loves a pint of the traditional English Bitter, could not get tired of this. It doesn't matter if you are a hard-and-fast lager drinker or even someone who really doesn't drink beer at all, you will love Wainwright.