Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Thornbridge and Dark Star's Coalition Old Ale

Brewed in 2009, Coalition Old Ale (7%abv) is the result of a collaboration between the Thornbridge and Mark Tranter from the ever-excellent Dark Star . I first tried this beer a few months back, at one of our fabled bottle-swaps, courtesy of those kind chaps Andy and James of SummerWine Brewery. As I sat and tasted mine, I was very aware of how I'd probably need another chance to try it to really form an opinion of it; I certainly wasn't expecting the kind of beer that it actually is. Not sure why, I just expected something darker, smokier, and stronger in alcohol.

Luckily, Hopzine Rob and Baron Orm rushed to my aid, and I managed to get my hands on another bottle - and I'm glad I did. Coalition Old Ale is an exercise in subtlety; a real class act. Firstly, there's that colour - hazy Amber, bright and...well, vibrant. Not the look of a beer dormant since 2009. The lasting, substantial head is the only giveaway to the age; slightly tobacco-hued, not quite white. The taste is softly sweet, with only the slightest hint of resinous wood (pine?) floating around underneath.

There's a little spice - Cinnamon, perhaps - and then comes along those flavours you'd more typically associate with 'Old Ales'; some raisin, some bitter cherry, a hint of almond. The finish ramps up the bitterness, and the beer ends up with a really satisfying Orange note, drying the palate and making it a surprisingly moreish beer. The alcohol is only gently warming, and Coalition is well worth seeking out if you can. A beer to be sipped and savoured, for sure.


Mark Dredge said...

I absolutely loved this beer! For something of its age it's a masterpiece.

Leigh said...

I agree Mark, I thought it was genuinely well crafted and unique.

John Clarke said...

Pleased to here this - I've got three bottles in my cellar at the moment. I'm wondering if it's one for keeping a while or drinking while relatively "fresh" ('cos it had a pretty lengthy maturation at the brewery I seem to recall).

Darren T said...

I invested in a couple of bottles of this one when it came out. One is definitely staying in the beer cupboard for a good long while, but I might try the other before too long. Sounds pretty damn amazing.

Anonymous said...

An inspiring review mate as we discussed. Fab beer too.



Leigh said...

Guys - if you've got more than one bottle, I'd drink one now - I really think this would benefit being drunk younger - bear in mind, as John says - that it's two years old already.