Greene King Vintage Ale

I know that Greene King gets a bit of flack for their IPA (3.6%!!) but I quite like some of their range. The IPA reserve is actually a decent beer, but then I am fond of the maltier styles. It’s more of a Red IPA than a traditional English IPA, however. When I saw that Tesco were selling two “limited edition” ales with the moniker of “Chevallier Series” I had to check it out. I’ve been wanting to try a beer made with Chevallier for some time.

It pours pretty lively, quickly forming a tightly packed off-white to pale tan head that lasts the whole way down. While it does state bottle conditioned, I can’t see any evidence of flocculated yeast on the bottom. But with the bottle a good 568ml, (or a pint if you still haven’t embraced metric, who doesn’t like asking for 568ml at the bar?) and the head that forms there is still a jot left in the bottle once the glass is full. Maybe I need a stein for this one?

Character

I can smell the malty, fruity aromas before I’ve even lifted the glass, probably due to the amount of bubbles continuously rising from the bottom. If it wasn’t for the raisin and dark fruit aromas I could be forgiven for thinking this was an amber continental ale, such as a Marzen. The malt really does want to leap out, but it’s a sweet malt that’s clear there is some caramel malts in there. Sure enough, Greene King point out that the recipe uses Chevallier, amber and caramel malts in the grist.

On to the taste. This is a 6.5% beer and it shows. There is a slight booziness to it even under all the malt. It’s a strong biscuity sweet flavour, I like it, though maybe a little too sweet. Cutting back on the caramel malt might help a little here. The raisin flavours carry through from it, though. There is enough bitterness here to cut through the sweetness, and it just finishes so at the back of the tongue. This is a very much malt forward beer though.

Colour is deep amber to light copper. It’s also clear, but not brilliant. There is some good lacing and no legs.

Overall

In a word, nice. I like it, as a malt fan it hits the spot for me. The bitterness comes in just at the end so that it doesn’t finish cloying, and makes you want to take another sip. I like the fact the head stays all the way down, but it’s unfortunate that they upped the gas to get it there. While I would go back for another I think I would feel quite full after a couple.

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