Stopping at the bottle-o at the Terminus on the way home, I "uuuummed" and "aaahhhed", dithered and thithered, and ended up with some 3 Ravens Smoke Beer. The young gentleman in the bottle shop, a gaunt love child of Nick Cave & Bruce Spence, said, "that's a local; it's from Thornbury". Living in Thornbury, my heart filled with a strange pride. Beer! Brewed in my own backyard, as it were.
I'd like to think that I apply the same critical eye to this beer as I would for any other. I can't guarantee anything, mind you.
According to their website (and the fridge at the Terminus), they brew a few beers. Tonight, however, the verdict is on the Smoke Beer. It's a fullsome ale with the caramels of well-roasted malt, but soft, and although it's not particularly bitter, it's not in the slightest cloying. And yes, it does have a slightly smoky finish.
The 3 Ravens folk describe it as having a "bright ruby hue". It doesn't; it's more of a lovely pale chocolate colour - beautiful, by all means, but by no means ruby. It's also described as a having an "aromatic beechwood nose". I have a rather pointed and largish nose, but it isn't made of beechwood. I can smell with it, but I'm not sure that makes it aromatic.
OK, so the brewery turns out to be withing walking distance of the front door, but I'm not one to judge a beer by convenience, unless I'm thirsty. It's a really lovely and surprisingly refreshing beer for a dark ale. It's not particularly rich and it doesn't have (or need) the heavy-handed hops often needed to balance a rich, dark beer. This is a beautiful beer, one that I will enjoy again. I can't imagine drinking many dark ales on a hot day, but this'll be great. It's also bottle conditioned, so it's got some modest sludge-meets-Vegemite in the bottom, but it all blends in to the rich whole.
I'm not a fan of wheat beers or blond beers, but they do make some others that I'll give a go. I'll let you know what I think...
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