Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Robinsons - Old Tom Strong Ale

Hello all, I know it has been quite some time since my last update, my apologies. I had another one queued up and ready to go, but wasn't satisfied with the quality of the beer (not to mention I accidentally recycled the bottle before I could get a photograph). In any case I am here with a fresh review of a high quality ale. This time it is Old Tom Strong Ale from Robinsons. It is classified as an English Strong Ale and if my memory serves me correctly, this is the first time we've reviewed an English Strong (we've seen Bitters and Strong Bitters, but never a Strong Ale). This ale won the award for best ale in the world in 2009 at the World Beer Awards, so this brew has a bit of weight behind it. Like the Espresso Stout from Dark Star, I read about Old Tom in a magazine and had never seen it in the Seattle area. Leave it to de Bierkoning to come through here again because that's where I found it and immediately purchased a bottle. As for the brewer I'll give you a little background information...

Robinsons Family Brewers first opened in 1838 and the first record of Old Tom Ale is from 1899. They are based in Stockport, England, in greater Manchester. The current commercial brewery: Old Unicorn Brewery, derives its name from the first location purchased and operated by William Robinson in 1838: The Unicorn Inn, which also housed the first brewery. Robinsons owns a few other smaller breweries; Federation, Hartley, Marks & Spencer, to name a few, and under these names and their own, they brew many different kinds of beer ranging from Ginger Ales to Blondes and ESB's to Porters.

Moving on now to a brief discussion of English Strong Ales...the typical flavor profile will be somewhat fruity (dark fruits), and malty sweet. Hops may be noticeably present, but this is not always the case. These beers are sometimes found unfiltered and unpasteurized (this offering is neither) and may be bottle conditioned. Other excellent examples of the style: Fullers 1845 and Samuel Smith's Yorkshire Stingo (you may be able to find those back in Seattle). Now without further adieu, I give you Old Tom Strong Ale...

Name: Old Tom Strong Ale
Category/Style: English Strong Ale
ABV: 8.5%
IBU: Unknown
OG: Unknown
FG: Unknown
Malt Type(s): British Pale, Crystal, Chocolate, & Caramel Malts
Hop Type(s): Goldings & Northdown
Yeast Type: Unknown
Special Additives: None
Bottled: Unknown
Bottle Size: 330 mL
Location Purchased: de Bierkoning, Amsterdam, Netherlands

The Pour: The head dissipates quickly, cream colored, fizzy carbonation. Color is transparent and medium to dark brown. Slight ruby hue to it.

The Nose: Sweet and bready, malty, yeasty, sweet caramel, chocolate and dark fruits, maybe some dried fig, slight roasted character to it. Smells a bit earthy. I can only imagine what it tastes like. Swirling reveals a bit of wet earth, wet moss, a bit of alcohol, and maybe the faintest hint of hops & a nutty
almond-like aroma....ok going for a taste!

The Taste: Carbonation is low to medium, medium body. Lots of bready yeasty notes. A bit of spice and earth. Roasted malt on the finish, nice warming of the throat. Dark fruit hits the palate, a little caramely sweetness. A little nutty. I detect a bit of bitterness on the finish also. A very delicious English Strong. Earthy, flavorful, and dry ;]

The Verdict: A very delicious English Ale indeed. Easily one of the best I've ever had. Roasted, dry, spicy, bitter, lots of depth to this one (must be why it was named the best ale in the world). I think my favorite English Ale is still the Black Sheep Ale. But focusing on Robinsons Old Tom, I've got to hand it to them, this beer is high quality. Given the chance, I would buy it again in a heartbeat. Drinkability is high, it's not heavy or overly alcoholic (even though it's 8.5%). Track down a bottle and you won't be disappointed :]

Thanks for reading!



Anonymous said...

Whats the best serving temperature?

Zach Hoyopatubbi said...

As this is an English Ale, I would say right around cellar temperature (50 - 55F or 10 - 12C). Hope this helps :]