Ale Tasting at The Botanist, Birmingham

#BrumHour asked Jo-ann Lloyd to visit the Botanist for an Ale Tasting last week and this is what she wrote:

Ale Tasting at The Botanist, Birmingham

by Jo-ann Lloyd twitter.com/Jo_annLloyd

I arrived a little early at the Botanist, but wasn’t the first, clearly I wasn’t the only one keen to try a selection of ales under some expert guidance. Gradually our table started to fill, until there was about 10 of us, ready to learn.

Kieran was on hand, to brief us on the complexities of modern ales. Firstly, I was glad to learn that unlike wine tasting, we were actually expected to swallow the ales. How else would we be able to comment on the finish of the drink in question? Various types of wheat (from pale to dark and brown to peated), and hops were passed round for us to sniff and snack on if we fancied it.

I can’t recommend wheat grains as a snack, but tasting them did help me to understand how the complexity of ale is achieved.

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Round One: Gentlemans Wit by Camden Brewery.

A Belgian inspired wheat beer with citrus, and bergamot hints. As I am not a big fan of Earl Grey tea (code for I despise it) I was surprised I found the bergamot hints enhanced the flavour of this beer.

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Round Two: Erdinger Wheat Beer

This German take on wheat beer had string Banana flavours, which I did not take to, but that was purely a personal preference.

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Round Three: Honkers Ale by Goose Island

I really enjoyed this fruity beer which is made with English Hops, and can see why it is one of Goose Islands best sellers.

Round Four: 13 Guns by Crafty Dan

An American style craft beer produced in England. I’m pretty sure I’ve tried this before and its very drinkable but not outstanding.

Round Five: Vedett IPA

Belgian style beer while I enjoyed the combination of smoky and spicy notes in this ultimately it was too fizzy for my liking.

Round Six: Dublin Porter by Guinness

While this looked very like a standard Guinness (a favourite tipple in my youth), this was surprisingly light in comparison, but retained the malty finish that I like. Apparently Porter was designed for market porters, as an after work drink, and the name shortened over time.

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Round Seven: Millionnaire by Wild Beer Company

Much of the pre tasting conversation had centred on this beer, and it came highly recommended by both Kieran and one the Midland Beer Blog Collective. The company have tied to replicate the taste of millionnaires shortbread by adding cocoa nibs and salted caramel. I found this to be overly salty and couldn’t detect caramel flavours. But everyone around me seemed to find it highly drinkable (if not for a whole evening).

Round Eight: The final round: Schneider Weisse Under Adventuris

This was our final sample and maybe that why I found its fruity flavour not to my taste.

Footnote: Kieran switched St Austell Proper Job for Millionnaire as he overheard the pretasting chat. The following day I found Proper Job in a local pub and tried it for myself and found it both warming and light so very drinkable.

Once we had finished tasting, we were supplied with meat and cheese sharing platters which went down very well with everyone. If you haven’t been to the Botanist yet, I can recommend it due to its wide choice of drinks, (not just ale its cocktails are scrummy too) and food.

Having been overwhelmed by the Beer menu in the Botanist previously, I feel I could now pick a beer for myself, from its many pages, with greater confidence.

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Follow Botanist Birmingham on twitter at twitter.com/BotanistBham


Jo-ann was invited by the Botanist on behalf of BrumHour to this ale tasting, her views are her honest thoughts and she has not been paid for this blog post.

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