What do you get when you make a monster ale? Yes that's right, a barleywine. So I guess it is no surprise that Lovibond's Gold Reserve, an imperialised version of their wheat beer should be called a wheat wine - a term I had not come across until I got a couple of bottles in the post recently, along with the very natty glasses which have starred in several pictures lately.
This really was a case of not knowing what to expect, whether it would be simply a stronger version of the Henley Gold or closer to something like a weizenbock from Germany. Therefore, I decided not to read the label for ingredients and other such blurb, but rather to let the beer do the talking first.
It pours a rich amber, with a slightly off-white head, which at first disappeared rather quickly but when I would top up my glass it came back and hung about - it was a 0.75l bottle and the glass is a half pint. The nose is full of rich fruity sweetness, which Mrs Velkyal immediately noted as honey, and there were also some banana and clove spicy notes coming through as the beer warmed up. The dominant flavour is the sweetness of honey, although with a noble hop background which prevented the sweetness from being overly cloying, in the background I could taste caramelised bananas - one of my favourite desserts.
Yes the Gold Reserve resembles barleywine to an extent, but it is lighter in body and much less sickly - I can't imagine drinking an entire 0.75l bottle of something like Durham Brewery's magnficent Benedictus in one half hour sitting. This is quite simply a lovely, lovely beer - once again Jeff at Lovibond's has crafted something wonderful.
When I did look at the label, I allowed myself something of a smug moment as there is a rather copious amount of honey in the beer - apparently the weight of Jeff in honey (having never met the guy in the flesh I wouldn't like to hazard a guess at how much that would be). So there you have it, another superb beer from Henley-on-Thames, go to the website and order some today.