Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Fuggled Review of the Year - Amber

I almost went to live in Lithuania once, well actually twice, but there we go. For the first few years of my stint in Prague I taught English as a Foreign Language, and the same year I moved to Minsk in Belarus, I was offered a position in Klaipeda, and again the year after, but Prague has claws. That little story is entirely irrelevant other than whenever I think of amber, I think of Lithuania. So to the contenders for the Fuggled Amber Beer of the Year:
You often hear that beer is best drunk fresh, well it didn't get much fresher than the night I had Blue Mountain's lovely Lights Out Holiday Ale earlier this year. The company I work for got the beer for our Halloween party from Blue Mountain, and it was my job to drive out to the brewpub and collect it, and take the opportunity for lunch and a pint. So fresh were the cases of Lights Out that the bottles were still wet as I packed then into my car for the drive back to Charlottesville. The rich mahogany of the beer pointed to the delights of sweet and spice which were to come.

Our local Whole Foods recently moved to a new building, and the new venue has a bar with 8 taps and a selection of wine, but most importantly of all, they have happy hour from 4 to 6 every work day. Mrs V and I regularly go to happy hour on Friday's and for a while in October they had the simply delicious Clawhammer Oktoberfest lager. Dollops of juicy malts balanced with noble hop aromas and a drinkability that was insanely dangerous. Highland are fast becoming a favourite brewery of mine, and they had a couple of contenders for this award, including their Gaelic Ale, several of which I polished off recently.

The Isle of Arran is one of the most beautiful places in Scotland, and Scotland has plenty of beautiful places (minor side note, I haven't been home since 2005 and am yet to show Mrs V the delights of Highlands, one day, one day). The Arran Dark was another of the beers brought up from South Carolina by Mrs V's best friend. There was only one word to describe this beer, gorgeous, and next time I get to Greenville, South Carolina, I will be buying at least a case of it.

It's very difficult to decide from the three beers for this award, but while I always enjoy seasonal offerings, I like to be able to drink superb beers at any time of the year, and so the Fuggled Amber Beer of the Year is:
  • Arran Dark
If you are looking for a classic Scottish ale, then Arran Dark is it, sweet without being sickly, a light hop bite in the background to keep it balanced and at 4.3% the kind of beer you could drink all night and then stumble to bed without too much hassle. The only thing missing would be a fire, so here's one for you.

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