Monday, October 15, 2007

Old Peculier English Ale

This beer came via the recommendation of a beer-loving employee of Cost Plus World Market: Old Peculier English Ale. He liked it because, according to him, its taste would change after each sip of the beer. I was intrigued, so I picked one up the next time I was in the store.

Remember when I reviewed Monty Python's Holy Grail Ale and mentioned Paul Theakston's family brewery that was bought out by Newcastle in 1987? Old Peculier is brewed by that brewery, originally started by Robert Theakston and John Wood in 1827 in Masham, North Yorkshire, England. They originally set up their brewery in the Black Bull Pub. T&R Theakston takes over the Lightfoot Brewery in 1919 (I like that it was allegedly because Lightfoot always beat Theakston at cricket). In 1974, they took over the Carlisle State Management Brewery, which was the only state-owned brewery in the country. After a 17-year battle, Scottish & Newcastle bought out the brewery in 1987, but four of the brothers Theakston regained control in 2004. (Theakston Brewery history)

Now, I thought it was strange that the beer was spelled Old Peculier with an "e", seeing as how it is spelled with an "a". However, what I didn't know is that a Peculier is "a place of worship that falls directly under the jurisdiction of a person or body other than the bishop of a diocese." So this beer is essentially named in honor of the old Peculier of Masham, founded in 1741 (the label and the bottle cap illustrate the Peculier's seal). I don't know when the beer was first-brewed (Wikipedia says the 1890's, but then again, it's Wikipedia). ( "Peculier" entry, the bottle)

Here are the stats:

Old Peculier English Ale
BREWERY: T&R Theakston Ltd., Masham, North Yorkshire, England (under authority of Scottish & Newcastle)
ABV: 5.6%

The ABV came from Theakston's Old Peculier webpage, but that's it. A call to Scottish & Newcastle Importers of San Rafael, CA, may be in order.

This beer poured an almost-solid dark ruby red that revealed itself after a moderately-sized half-foamy half-bubbly light tan head. It stayed for a little bit, then quietly retreated. In its wake was a very fruity and slightly chocolatey/nutty aroma that wafted to about an 18-inch radius. The taste did not drastically change between sips like for the Cost Plus employee, but it was an interesting taste. While the initial taste was a weak bubbly grainy taste, once I swallowed it, an explosion of fruit and nut occurred in my mouth for about two seconds before fading out to another grainy taste without the carbonation. For a second, I thought that I tasted bubble gum (!) in a fleeting moment. It's finish was a very light grain that was not intrusive and was very pleasant.

This is a very interesting beer, and I highly recommend it as a change of pace from the usual lager or ale. It certainly has an interesting character.


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