There's a lot of fuss on the Twittersphere (is that the right preposition?) at the moment about the government's increase in duty as applied to beer above 7.5%. The claim is that it will stop people drinking beer that's too strong - I am assuming the likes of Special Brew. Anyone with half an ounce of sense can see that this is not going to work (White Lightning anyone?) but what it will do is reduce the sales, and the stocking, of some really interesting artisan beers, especially 'specialist' imported beers that, and it may be because I don't hang around in the classier streets, I don't see people walking down the road swigging from a can.
If the tax was fair, then OK, but it means there is more duty on these beers than wines that are half as strong again - Blossom Hill anyone? I'm guessing that the House of Commons Cellar has a lot of wine, but not a lot of Belgian beer. Anyway, more of that here, and please sign the e-petition.
All of which brings me round to Hunter's Full Bore. I think that a beer that comes out at 8% should have massive amount of character to balance the alcohol. There is dried fruit in there, and a caramel sweetness, and it's certainly not a bad beer, but it's not really that exciting. So this isn't as good as a beer that's been brewed along similar lines by monks in Belgium for hundreds of years, it's no Westmalle Dubbel for example. But I guess the point is that if the tax man kicks the arse out of the market for potentially interesting beers that can be dwelt upon rather than knocked back, then we are going to miss out on the imports, and miss out on our brewers who will be less likely to brew this sort of beer, and therefore get better and better at it. In the mean time Carlsberg will carry on, and the Brew is unlikely to be influenced by the burgeoning domestic craft brewing scene.
£2.12 (50cl) at Sainbury's
I also tried McEwans Champion Ale recently. Certainly makes the Full Bore taste good. Deep brown beer with bunt toast aromas and flavours, a harsh, artificial, sweetness which really doesn't have any fruit flavours (like in the Full Bore) to back it up. Bitter finish but unfortunately a really inelegant beer, the hops simply fail to complement the sweetness, seeming almost completely at odds with it. Not at all clear what this is the champion of, but I wouldn't fancy tasting the competition!
7.3% abv. A quick internet check and it's available for £1.65 in Asda - I didn't buy this one.