Bretwalda by Greene King2
Bretwalda was one of the few beers in the Sainsbury’s Beer Competition that didn’t jump of the shelf at me. Packaging is vital to any beer, and whilst there’s nothing wrong per se with Greene King’s Bretwalda style, it simpy didn’t appeal to me when I saw it.
That affects my perception of the beer and I already don’t exactly hold Greene King in great regard – it’s nothing personal I’ve just never really enjoyed the beers hugely. And I’m firmly on the side of the fence that doesn’t rate their IPA.
So given that I’m starting from a slightly negaive point of view, I’m pleased that I can write about Bretwalda positively. My first impression is that it’s sweet and peppery – white pepper that is – with hints of spices and an almost chilli or ginger aftertaste. It’s fruity beyond the interesting pepperiness, like copice pears, and the fruity flavours are distincively English which must be the Greene King and Marston’s apple yeast I’ve read about.
The peppery taste adds real bite to what could otherwise be quite a flat bottled beer, and the caramel malty character makes it drinkable and slighly sweet. A real ‘real ale’ sourness comes through which makes me crave more refreshment.
This is a real autumn beer, in colour, taste and bottle design, you can almost taste the colder days and browning leaves.
This isn’t really my style. Whilst for me, beers like this are infinitely more interesing than the staple bitters found in Wetherspoons. I like the English complexion, texture and aftertaste, but it’s still a tad nondescript. That’s harsh, it’s just a little, underwhelming, for me. For those that favour bitters and autumnal ales this could be a real winner, with something interesting others beers might not have, but if you prefer continental or pale ale styles rich in hops than it might not be your winter cup of tea.
For me, I’ll give this another go, but only at this time of year. I’ll hazard a guess that it’s twice the beer drank in a real pub, under the orangey leaves of an English oak on a chilly Sunday afternoon in November.