Review: Samuel Smith’s India Ale – Aledvent Calendbeer 5
Christmas, for many, is about home and home for me is Yorkshire. Flat caps, whippets and moors spring to mind. But what Yorkshire is also associated with is some truly great beer.
Most of the spotlight is shone on beers like Pale Rider from Kelham Island Brewery or Landlord from Timothy Taylor but another great brewery is Tadcaster’s Samuel Smith’s, or Samuel Smith’s Old Brewery to give it it’s full name.
This reviewer has never had this particular beer from a bottle before, but right from popping the cap I knew from smell alone it would be worthy of “God’s own county”.
Its a really hearty aroma, with an initial hit of roast parsnips rolled in parmesan cheese. You can smell it a mile off, it just seems to shoot right out of the bottle when opening and straight up your nostrils. Pouring it into a dimple jug the smell mellows a little and turns sweeter, toffee apple billowing from a lovely frothy head. The colour is nutty, fairly transparent oak, maybe a little more so than most IPAs.
The taste, funnily enough, is a lot less powerful than the nose, but no less enjoyable. A perfect session beer, there’s a mild bitterness on the back of the teeth and its got a little chewiness to it. Like the aroma its also very fresh tasting. There’s an overlying flavour that washes all the way through from beginning to end of dew on a young tree’s bark, especially so on the foretaste, mixed with fresh water from a babbling brook.
From the mid-taste on and then fully developing on the tail and diminishing on the after-taste, hints of quality tobacco. Not muck from a cigarette bathed in chemicals but proper, tasty tobacco from a cigar; like when you’ve had it in your mouth a little too long, the end disintegrates and you get those fragments floating around your mouth.
So its not a punchiest beer, but appropriately for a brew from Yorkshire, it is very smooth, bursting with unique character, comforting and deceptively tasty.