The dark delights of the White Horse

Friday 22 November 2013

The onset of winter means the arrival of the Old Ale Festival at the White Horse at Parsons Green. A preview with Cellar Manager, Jamie Percival, gave a chance to taste just a few of the 61 beers that will be available over the weekend of the Festival (22-24 November 2013).

Jez Manterfield, the General Manager, introduced the session explaining the dedication of the pub to beer, which was the heart of what the White Horse is all about 'It's a pub without music, a pub that offers a chance to sit down and socialise and that's what this Festival is all about' he said.

The White Horse can cope with the dozens of rotating beers they will be selling thanks to the dedicated team of 7 cellar staff and this year, for the first time, they will be offering third of a pint glasses so that people can try more. A sensible idea when you have beers such as Robinson's Old Tom at 8.5%ABV and Dark Star's Imperial Russian Stout at 10.5% ABV to name just two heavy hitters.

The team start planning for the Old Ale Festival as soon as the last one finishes, taking into account the comments and noting which beers were the most popular. One established favourite is the draught Harvey's Extra Russian Stout (9% ABV) and a beer that is a dark delight. It is an aged beer and usually only available in bottles. There are spiced notes on the nose and palate, liquorice and black treacle, plums and caramelised fruit in the taste and finish. Lots going on.

But this isn't the only beer that has been aged. The O'Hanlon's Brewers Reserve has been aged for over two and a half years and is a mighty 12.9%ABV, having increased in alcohol during the storage. It's a complex barley wine with an almost orange liqueur like character that is offset by a little bitterness. A great beer to go with cheese.

But if you are looking for something quite different than Mexi-Cocoa from the Cornish Rebel Brew Co at 8.5%ABV is an interesting beer. It's name does not lie; it has a cocoa powder aroma and flavour with vanilla and fruit that lingers with a little bitterness. One to finish off on.

If that has wetted your appetite, there are just another 58 beers to explore!

Christine Cryne November 2013.