It's Friday as I write this, though I drank the beer back in late August but since I will be away, I am scheduling some articles. It's another Fuller's beer today, this time it's XX strong ale from the Past Masters range. Past masters is a set of beers that were recreated from the Fuller's brew book. This recipe is over 100 years old and to be a little honest, I can see why they sort of left it behind. As regular readers know, I am a big fan of Fuller's beers so I always get a little disappointed when I have one that does not live up to my expectations. First off, there is nothing wrong with the beer. At 7.5% you have to expect something a little more interesting than a strong bitter. The closest beer I can think of is 1845 and I would much prefer a bottle of 1845 I think.
XX strong ale has a fruity bubblegum with a little spice in the aroma, as well as some caramel and earthy hops. All in, a rather pleasant aroma actually. I think it's the taste that lets it down, and lets be honest, taste is probably the most important factor in a beer. Instantly when you put it on your mouth, you get a sharp bitterness followed by a boozy middle with a fruity caramel body. It also leaves a somewhat metallic aftertaste I thought, but did not overpower the finish. Not a bad tasting beer at all, it's rather lovely actually.
There is nothing wrong with the beer, no real shortfall that I can describe. It just did not seem to come together the way I would have liked. Would I drink it again? Yes in a heartbeat, it's lovely but I would rather have an 1845 or even better, a vintage ale. Actually, I will be comparing a vintage ale bottled in 2000 to the 2010 version when I get back from Australia. I had a sneak preview at the brewery of what to expect but I could not drink too much as I had to drive home when I got back to Dublin later that evening.
I think what is wrong here is that my expectation for the beer was different to the reality, damn..... I hate that term but there it is. I would also like to try the stout, I can't remember if I had it at the brewery or not as there was a lot of good beer given to me at the wonderful place that is the Fuller's brewery in Chiswick. It's like going to Willy Wonka's chocolate factory only bad things don't happen to you when you consume the product, in fact product consumption is not only encouraged, it is pretty much mandatory.
So here is a question, should this beer be aged? It's possible that it should be aged at least a year before it's consumed. I asked Tony & John (from Fuller's) on twitter and they said yes. The current batch, the one I had is almost a year old now. I wonder will it get better with another year?