Owd Rodger, made by English brewers, Marston’s, caught my eye as it is both a strong beer and a dark, sweet brown ale. It is styled as a “Country Ale” but this is an appellation which does not appear in any of my beer reference books. To me this is a strong or Imperial Brown Ale and the brewers should be justly proud of it. Owd Rodger pours a dark brown colour and has a caramel aroma. The taste is quite complex with molasses coming through initially but then one gets a subtle sour cherry flavour together with a little tobacco. This is not a beer too quaff on sunny day but probably one to appreciate on a cold evening with a traditional English meal such as a steak and kidney pie or a rich beef casserole. I think it would also work with BBQ meats. This is a beer with very little hop flavour but what you do get is a rich, sweet malty taste which is what beer used to be like in England some 50 years ago. Apparently it is brewed to a 500 year old recipe although beer then would have been very smoky as the malt would have been roasted over an open fire.
Most British beers, especially those drunk in pubs tend to be quite in low alcohol by US standards. This is because we have a session drinking culture in the UK where people will meet friends in the pub and drink several UK pints (20 fl oz 568 ml) of beer. Clearly, if the beer was very strong then the session would not last that long or perhaps get out of hand. Low alcohol beers have not always been a feature of British drinking and the UK can boast of styles such as Imperial Stouts and Barley Wines which are now coming back into favour after many years. I am keen on traditional British styles of beer, particularly the darker, malt forward beers like Milds , which used to be very popular in the UK up until the 1970’s. They were eclipsed by lagers and to some extent by cask conditioned bitter. The old Mild style of beer is now very hard to find in the UK. Its stronger bottled version, Brown Ale is also in decline.
Marston’s are one of the UK’s biggest craft brewers having taken over a number of long established regional breweries. They are based in Burton-on-Trent which is the spiritual home of British brewing. Marston’s were formerly the Wolverhampton & Dudley Brewery. They then took over Mansfield, Marston’s, Jennings, Eldridge Pope, Ringwood, Brakspears and Wychwood. Marston’s Pedigree Bitter is widely available in the USA and they also brew the legendary Bass Bitter under licence from AB InBev. I don’t think Owd Rodger is available yet in the USA but clearly Marston’s have distribution so perhaps they may want to share this great beer with American drinkers.
MARSTONS OWD RODGER COUNTRY ALE 7.4% abv. (England)
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