Monday, January 6, 2014

Middle Ages Wizard's Winter Ale

2.5
   AROMA 4/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 4/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 11/20
Chad9976 (1040) - Albany, New York, USA - JAN 6, 2014
I poured a 12oz bottle into a nonic pint glass. There was no freshness date. It cost $2.69 ($0.22 per ounce).

Appearance: Hazy orange shade with plenty of spastic carbonation visible. Pours to a small, off white, frothy head which laces and retains fairly well.

Smell: As soon as I popped the cap I could smell a Heineken-like skunky aroma. Not sure why since it’s in a brown bottle. Closer inspection reveals minor hints of spice and malt, but mostly it’s off-putting.

Taste: Middle Ages is a brewery I’ve never been a big fan of. Most of their beers are average at best, though several are extremely amateurish and lacking of quality control. Wizard’s Winter Ale is a good example of what I mean. Here is what should be a decent, robust English strong ale or winter warmer, but is actually a mess of skunk, spices that don’t match, and brewing flaws every homebrewer should rectify by their second batch.

I often find beers that smell skunky have a taste to match. While this brew wasn’t quite as sour as some of the green bottle lagers, it’s definitely noticeably for a supposedly craft brewed ale. Marketed as a strong ale or winter warmer of some type, but it’s lacking genuine spices. A general melange of amber and pale malts, but with no sweetness - just raw graininess. Light bitterness on the second half with some dryness on the finish, but still lacking any real hop character. Additional sourness emerges as the beer goes down.

Honestly, I just don’t know what this beer is supposed to be. I’d probably chalk this up to being a really old bottle, but I doubt that’s the case because: 1) it’s a winter seasonal, so unless my beer store forgot to sell this last year, there’s no reason to believe this could be more than just a few months old; 2) there’s no freshness date on the bottle, so even if it were expired or fresh off the bottling line I’d never be able to tell.

Drinkability: For a 6.8% ABV brew, you’d think Middle Ages Wizard’s Winter Ale would have some real body and character to it. I found it to be remarkably thin in the mouthfeel and as light-bodied as a macro "lite" brew. It’s tolerable, but not redeemable. This isn’t the first time I’ve had problems with this brewery, but after drinking this beer it will indeed be the last. 
Grade: 3/10