Taste of the Year 2009

Although the temporary conversion of the World of Beer website to this blog necessitated the dropping of my Taste of the Month feature, I feel compelled to still carry on the tradition of my Taste of the Year. And having sampled so many extraordinary beers in 2009, making the choice was no easy task, believe me.

In the end, however, one beer stood out amongst all the others as the most immediately and singularly extraordinary flavour experience of the year. And it is…

Worthington White Shield!

I presented this wonderful ale at a sampling in Atlanta in the fall and was positively delighted to find a few left-over bottles stashed in my room by the hotel’s beverage director at the end of the night. I enjoyed a couple while staying up too late watching (yet again) the Guy Ritchie film Snatch on the tube, and then made some detailed notes on the third just before heading out to lunch the next day. An excerpt:

Rich copper in colour, you can smell the “Burton snatch” even from a foot away, but that said, it’s never an overpowering sulphur, but rather one that is fully integrated into marmalade and tobacco notes with faint background suggestions of mineral and newly sawed hardwood, also brandied peaches. Hitting the palate, the ale offers a fruity suggestion of sweetness that blossoms quickly into a beautifully balanced mix of dry orangey spice, light caramel, nuttiness and a rising, spicy hop presence. The finish is quite dry but still with that lingering marmalade thing, and a mild to moderate bitterness lasting on the palate. This is a quite gorgeous ale, subtle yet assertive, complex yet quaffable. More, please.

Gorgeous, indeed. I still want more.

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