Saturday, 15 January 2011

There’s gold in them thar hills

This isn’t really intended as a beer reviews blog, but I have to say I’ve been impressed recently by Hawkshead Lakeland Gold which has appeared on the shelves of my local Tesco (4.4% ABV, 500ml bottle). I’ve been critical in the past of the wave of insipid, floral “golden ales” such as the disappointing Young’s London Gold, but this is entirely different – a proper bitter bitter, with a powerful, flinty hoppiness overlying a robust malt base. It’s also more of a pale amber colour than truly golden. Definitely one worth looking out for. And no, they didn’t give me a free sample.

In contrast, from the same source I had a bottle of Coach House Cheshire Gold (4.1% ABV), described on the label as “a wonderful golden beer with a fresh citrus hop aroma and a refreshing pine lemon crispness.” This too was more amber than gold, but there the similarity ended. It was dull and muddy in taste, with poor head retention, and with a distinctly harsh note that almost seemed like an off flavour. I thought seriously about not finishing the glass, although in the end I forced it down. Coach House Brewery, set up by former Greenalls employees, has been going for many years, but I’ve never been much taken by their beers and this did nothing to change my opinion.


  1. Apart from possibly some of their fruit beers, I think the best that can be said of Coach House is that they have hit the heights of mediocrity.

  2. Unfortunately, Coach House have never been one of my favourites either.

  3. Some of their fruit beers may be OK, but when I tried it Coach House's raspberry beer was dreadful. I wrote:

    the raspberry flavouring completely swamped the beer, for all the world as if the barmaid had pulled the beer and then tipped raspberry syrup into it. According to their Web site Coach House do a whole range of ‘fruit beers’, although I don’t think they’ll be giving Liefman’s any sleepless nights – Banoffee Beer, anyone? Avoid, unless you’re looking for an alco-pop.

  4. I even doubted its claim to be a golden ale.

    If you're interested - this is what I made of it...

  5. ...and, no, they didn't give me a free sample either...

    But I like to think that if they had, the views expressed would have been much the same.

    Otherwise all free beer would be the best beer ever.

    An unsustainable model for any review site...


    I think we're broadly in agreement there. I would say it's sufficiently balanced to be drunk in quantity, though - it's a bitter everyday beer, not a one-dimensional specialist hop-bomb.

  7. I don't think I've ever had a Coach House beer that I've enjoyed. But with a background in Greenall's, is this surprising?

  8. Despite the above criticisms, including my own, Coach House must be doing something right, as I see they will be celebrating their 20th anniversary this year!

  9. Just goes to show there's more to success in the brewing industry than brewing good beer - a talent for sales and marketing and a sense of financial discipline are also important.

    I don't think Coach House cask beers are bad in the sense that some micro beers are bad, just bland and lacking in hop character. But the bottled Cheshire Gold was nasty.

  10. Sadly it appears that Lakeland Gold has now disappeared from Tesco's shelves - I have e-mailed them to lodge a complaint.

  11. However, after the latest revamp of Tesco's beer range, Lakeland Gold is now back on their shelves, albeit at a far-from-cheap £1.89 a bottle. Let's hope one day they have it at 3 for £4.


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