...which photo sucks less...hmmm...
Somedays I can't get a good photo of a beer for love or money. I have about 30 bad shots of this fussy dark label and finally I thought - to heck with it. I can't be driven by your incessant demands for more and better beer-based photographic art. So there you are. A prize for the person who identifies the city in the map.
This is the sixth Samuel Smith's beer I have reviewed here at AGGB. I reviewed the other five here last December. The beer advocatonians love it and with good reason. It is something of the Ur-IPA, being produced by one of the brewers which may have been involved in the India trade which created the style. Merchant du Vin, its US importer says:
The Old Brewery at Tadcaster was founded in 1758 and is Yorkshire’s oldest brewery. Samuel Smith is one of the few remaining independent breweries in England, and further is the last to utilize the classic Yorkshire Square system of fermentation solely in stone squares.Here is a handy article on the history of the style and a none too brief one at that.
This IPA is tangy and hoppy but not necessarily hop tangy. The Yorkshire square system is open vat which, along with a certain breed of yeast bred for it, creates a sourness that is Sammy Smith's hallmark. The only other one I have come across is Shipyard in Portland Maine and I think they use another differently tangy yeast strain by name of The Ringwood. I don't know if Sammy's has a fancy name like that. The tang is something of the sour of sour creme or old cheddar as opposed to the acid tang of sharp hops. It is bolstered by its own creaminess and the rich fruit of the English malt. It is only once you get through all that that the hops come out, antiqued a bit and twiggy green. There is woodsiness, too, not mellow rich from oak cask fermentation like Marston's Pedigree so much as the smell of green and freshly snapped hardwood branches. Lively. And there is a sneeky bit of smoke. Auld reekie ale. Autumnal. By the fireplacey. Lovely.