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Wells Banana Bread Beer

Wells Banana Bread Beer

Wells Banana Bread Beer

I admit to being something of a traditionalist when it comes to my barley beverages. I’m also generally a creature of habit – most of the time I know, and the regular bar staff know, what I’m going to drink, at least in general terms. Sturdy stouts, round browns, full-bodied bitters or a crisp weissbier – I only rarely stray from the path, and when I do it’s normally down to recommendation. Here, in Wells and Young’s Banana Bread Beer, is a classic departure from the norm – picked not for any of the usual reasons, but because it was so different.

Brewed in Bedford, England, the label describes the beer as having “tempting banoffee aromas and flavors” balanced by “silky richness of a masterful malt blend and the peppery…hops”. Made with fairly traded bananas, I thought this was going to be just another of those pretentious yuppie beers.

I’d seen the beer being delivered, and had done the classic double-take on seeing the name. “A beer that contains bananas? Wrong, just plain wrong”, I thought. “But I must try it, to prove just how wrong it is”. Read on…

I was mistaken, dear reader. It’s not wrong, but it’s not quite right, either. With its bright, coppery colour, it looks appealing on the pour, though with a thin head. Immediately but subtly, there’s the first whiff of bananas, coupled with a light, toasty maltiness. I had poured it straight from the ‘fridge, so I was quite surprised at the depth, both of flavour and scent – I normally expect those to develop as the temperature rises.

The first swallow confirms the bananas and adds a faint, almost toffee flavour. It has a nice body, with a rich mouthfeel, is sweet without being over-the-top, and the banana is almost perfectly balanced against the light hoppiness. In short, it’s a pleasant ale, and I was pleased that my $4.89 wasn’t a waste.

That said, it’s not a truly great beer. There’s something lacking that I found it hard to pin down at the time (it was two days ago that I took the notes for this). I realise now that I was expecting it to improve as it warmed up, and it didn’t. Au contraire, it lost a lot of the opening appeal as time went on. If I’m going to pay that much for a beer, I want it to be at least as satisyfing at the finish as at the start. Given my preference for beers that keep up (or even improve somewhat) as they warm up, I was slightly disappointed. The fruitiness waned as I got closer to the end, and though I may be expecting a lot, I feel that a beer that can’t hold its own for twenty minutes isn’t worth the candle.

My conclusions? Despite my reservations, I’m fairly happy with it – it has a great opening, there are pleasant surprises, but you’d better down it while it’s still got its legs. Whilst I wasn’t exactly in despair about its shortcomings, I’ll only give it a B-minus. Christine gave it a B+, but said you’d better drink it cold, on a really hot day. It’s certainly worth trying, if only for the novelty value. Will I buy it again? Probably not, but I’ll have one if you’re buying.

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  1. 3 December, 2009 at 16:33

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