This week's historical excuse to sample a beer comes from February 9, 1900, when the English established the Davis Cup tennis competition.
A good, potassium-rich recovery food for athletes playing tennis or other taxing sports (i.e. not golf) is bananas, and thus we have two excuses for discussing this week's brew: Banana Bread Beer from Wells & Young's Brewery, of Bedford, UK.
Yes, it's a little hokey. But, despite Wells's offerings coating the UK and much of the U.S., we'd never seen this one, and we couldn't pass it up.
The 5.2 percent alcohol-by-volume offering started off wonderfully, with a pleasant but not over-the-top banana aroma. The first sips burp banana, as well, in a still-pleasant way (yes, the burp is a taste category, for non-beer-nerds). And taking short breaks between sips is a good policy -- each time we returned to the glass having stepped away, it tasted thick, like the sweet bread it's supposed to emulate.
But unfortunately not all sips provided that experience.
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The space between the burp and the lingering flavor of each gulp -- in other words, the finish itself -- was awfully thin and simple, and really detracted from a beer that had otherwise good qualities. We found ourselves trying in vain to hold on to the main flavor before it dissipated into mediocre-lager thinness.
It's great that the brewer used fair-trade bananas, and they come through in a balanced way. We just wish the brewer had spent a little more time on the foundation of the house rather than the shutters, to stretch a metaphor.
In short, it's not a bad beer and we wouldn't warn you off trying it. Just don't expect the sort of balance we found in another flavor-infused sample recently.
We found Banana Bread Beer at Spec's.