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.
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.