Monday, 28 September 2009

Gadds' Ancestors and OOOKS!

The ever-enthusiastic Mark Dredge very kindly sent me a box of beer as part of a swap. While he got a handful of my own brews and a poor selection of German beers, I got a half-dozen beers which got pride of place in my beer cellar. Being generally short on beers from outside Germany these days, I'm going to stretch them out a bit, but they're half gone already. How could I resist? Forgive me, also, if I stretch out the blog posts about them, as I feel I have to group them somewhat. So lets start with the beers from the Ramsgate Brewery.

Gadds' Ancestors, a Whisky Cask Porter, has been aged in casks formerly used by the Bruichladdich distillery -- according to my whisky-expert colleague, one of the most progressive distilleries in Scotland at the moment. Started in 1881, it was closed down in 1995, but was reopened in late 2000 by a small company of individuals who went on to produce a vast range of new whiskies, and bottlings of the older Bruichladdich vintages. While the whiskies of Bruichladdich were known for being less heavy than those from other Islay distilleries, they have been breaking new ground with some heavily peaty releases since reopening, so I wasn't sure what would come out in this.

Pouring an opaque, oaky-black with a thin head, the aroma is strikingly peaty and oaky. There's a phenolic note that sometimes worries me. I have a strange relationship with those heavy peaty influences found in many Islay malts. Sometimes I love it, sometimes I find it too heavy. The same comes across in some rauchbiers, although with a different source of smoke, the supporting flavours have to be right, in my humble opinion. In the case of Ancestors, the flavours have strong oaky, dark vanilla overtones which are pretty unforgiving. Held in the mouth, the impression is slightly medicinal and smokey. Swallowing reveals licorice and burnt wood. Underneath all of this is an almost fruity sweetness, like dried figs, that creeps out from under the initial woody smokiness. At 9% ABV, this could be a sipper. With those powerful flavours, it definitely is a sipper, but highly enjoyable nonetheless.

In an exercise of unparalleled restraint, I held off the next Ramsgate beer for two days, at which point the call of Gadds' OOOKS! became too strong.

The flavour gives smooth, soft chocolate, raisens, a slight oakiness with a touch of vanilla and a twist of pepper spiciness. There's a slightly vinous undertone, like a good dessert wine. It has a lightly dryish, tannic quality, like a strong cup of tea, merging with a delicate tingle of hop bitterness and a long-lasting blackcurrant-like fruity finish. At 9%, it's surprisingly easy-drinking, with a medium body, it's not at all sticky, lending it a freshness that showcases the medley of flavours. A lovely, multi-layered beer that's a great nightcap.

7 comments:

Velky Al said...

I had a few Gadd's beers over Christmas last year and they were lovely! I particularly liked their Gadd's No. 3 Strong Pale Ale, seriously nice beer!

Barry M said...

Yes, I've read some good things about No. 3. Would love to give it a go!

Mark said...

Glad you like the beers - I would have sent a whole box of Gadds' stuff if I could, they are making some great beers right now. I love both of these and I think a drive along the coast to pick up a few more bottles might be in order, especially as they have a wide selection of Euro beers in their beer shop.

And No.3 is a classic - a fresh, cask pint is just brilliant.

I didn't realise it was Bruichladdich and that's funny because the night Pete and I drank your beers we had a beer from Bruichladdich which was a pale ale made from the Islay waters and it was incredibly peaty and smoky but was brewed with Amarillos and a few other citrusy hops and it had the lovely citrus flavour underneath, unlike anything I've had before (except Brewdog Storm) but fascinating!

As for whisky, I need to get myself a few bottles. I've decided to treat myself to two - a malt and a bourbon - with my first pay from the new job. Now I just need to decide what to go for...

Barry M said...

Sounds like a nice drive Mark! :D

I rely completely on my colleague for my whisky education. I don't think I could afford to get into that hobby, although I do have a bottle of Midleton Very Rare that is now apparently worth €400! Well, it would be if I hadn't opened it... I certainly didn't pay that when I bought it about 10 years ago. And it's probably over-rated...

Leigh said...

cool - i've never had a Gadds beer and your post has got me drooling, my tastes are certainly turning more darker, stronger as the nights draw in!!

Darren T said...

Those two sound absolutely fantastic. If I had anything left in the beer budget I'd be tracking them down as we speak.

Barry M said...

Tell me about it! I have to put a hold on beer purchases after I spent far too much on a BrewDog order recently. I've a stack of beers in the cellar though, so I won't be going thirsty!