There's a story behind why I bought this beer and reviewed it tonight - but it's long. Basically, just watch the video I upload on my Chad9976 channel tomorrow and I'm sure you'll understand. Anyway, this is another British Bitter and an official "real ale" according to the CAMRA Seal of Approval on the label. I haven't had a beer like this in a while, so I guess I was about due for one.
3.1AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 12/20
I poured a 500ml bottle into an English nonic pint glass.
Appearance: Mostly clear orange hue with slight cloudiness. Forms a large, yellow, soapy head of suds. It dissipates quickly, but not completely and leaves on minor lacing on the glass.
Smell: Next to nothing to describe. Perhaps a slight fruit scented candle sweetness, some light malt notes, but otherwise completely unaromatic.
Taste: The bottle carries CAMRA’s seal of approval, but the beer does not carry mine. Just a few sips into Ridgeway Bitter I had to seriously wonder why a beer like this, a traditional English Bitter and a "Real Ale", is worth of such hostile snobbery in the beer geek community. Seriously, what is it about beers like this the Brits like? Is it the sweetness? Well, it’s very minor and similar to something you’d taste in a child’s lollipop (I find that’s typical of beers brewed with Marris Otter malts). There’s a slight orange marmalade on toast component to the palate as well, but again, it’s very muted and subdued. Next to no bitterness, which is par for the course with beers of the style (isn’t that ironic?). Not that there’s anything really repulsive about the palate here, just nothing to really latch onto and enjoy.
Mouthfeel: Thicker than water, but about as tepid.
Drinkability: Just because a beer is quaffable doesn’t mean it’s good. If that were the case then Ridgeway Bitter would be a world class beer. The soft, gentle, comfortable mouthfeel combined with the mild, neutral palate and clean aftertaste make it highly quaffable. Also factor in the 4% ABV and you’ve got a highly sessionable beer. But I can’t see the average craft beer enthusiast getting beyond more than one bottle or serving of this, especially considering it’s over $6 a bottle.
Overall, Ridgeway Bitter represents everything American drinkers like me just don’t understand about the British "Real Ale" scene. I’m sure it’s brewed with care and craftsmanship, but the end product is unimpressive.