History has a way of repeating itself and this is fairly evident in the beer world with brewers recreating old recipes because of course, everything was so much better back in the day, or at least that's what some people believe. John Keeling in Fullers certainly decided to at least see what his brewery used to brew. It's been around since 1845 so there are a few recipes no longer in production, until recent years that is.
Fullers is one of my favourite breweries. They make consistently
I was recently up with Steve (BeersI'veKnown) for a past masters (among others) tasting. You can read our hosts account here.
I'm starting off with XX strong ale. This one I have had before. It was first brewed in 1891. The 7.5% ABV makes itself known early on. There are plenty of things to like about this beer but not enough for me to pick it over something else. I said it before, I would rather a Fullers 1845 than this, though I would not turn my nose up if someone bought me one. I would enjoy it.
Old Burton Extra is the latest of the past master releases. It's a 7.3% strong Burton ale. It was originally brewed back in 1931 though I'm not sure when they stopped brewing it. I can understand why they stopped brewing it though, the trend to lower ABV beers would have killed it off. There is a trend back to higher ABV beers these days but they tend to be a little more interesting. There is not a lot going on in this beer, some dried fruit in the middle and a very astringent finish. It was not to my liking.
Double Stout is the one recipe that perhaps should make a comeback. First brewed in 1893, it's absolutely beautiful with a full caramel backbone balanced with a subtle smokiness, dried fruits in the middle and a prune like finish. The carbonation and mouth feel are what make the beer though. It's subtle but creamy and just makes the whole experience a pleasure from start to finish. I could drink it all night, though at 7.4% it would be a short night.
By far the best of the past masters range to date and one of the best stouts I have ever had. I think I will be picking this up again.
While we were in a Fullers mood, we also popped open the latest brewers reserve #4. It's oak aged in brandy cask this time around. I often have mixed feelings about the brewers reserve range and this is no exception. I don't recall it being particularly interesting with the exception of a slightly sour finish. It's nice enough but again, Fullers make better beers than this so I have plenty to chose from. I might pick up a bottle to try on its own instead of after a load of strong beers so I reckon I was missing a lot of the flavours that are probably hiding from my fatigued palate.
In fact a vertical tasting might be in order....
If John is reading this, as he sometimes does, please keep up the good work with the past masters range. It's not as if I can travel back in time and try old beers for myself so having them recreated is the next best thing.