Bearwood Brewhouse’s first beer tasting

One of the most important stages in new product development, in our case developing a new beer, is doing thorough market research. To this end we, Gabriel and Jessica at the Bearwood Brewhouse, have put ourselves through the gruelling process of beer tasting.

The test begins

The test begins

Our method was simple; a double blind taste test on four beers: Black Sheep Ale, Spitfire Kentish Ale, Banks’s Bitter and Old Speckled Hen. We tried to guess which one was which without peeking at the labels and failed dreadfully. The following is our review on each beer, and although we don’t pretend to be experts we hope you enjoy the result of our hard night’s work.

The Line Up

The Line Up


Black Sheep Ale
(North Yorkshire)

A red-amber coloured ale with a moderately good head. The bouquet was moderately strong and malty, a bready note was detected under the malt. The taste was heavy, malty with little depth. The hops were very light and left a slight sour note.

Spitfire (Kent)

A similar red-amber with a better head than the Black Sheep ale. The smell was soapy, which made it clean but rather clinical. (There was a slight disagreement over this beer, Gabriel maintaining that it was a hop scent rather than soapy.) It had a stronger flavour, with a hoppy bitterness and a distinctive hop flavour in the after taste. This was the least malty beer.

Banks’s Bitter (West Midlands)

The lightest of all the beers with a good head retention. A sweet bouquet that was almost like bread and honey, it was a delicate and pleasing scent. The sweetest and lightest of all reviewed, Banks’s would make a fine summer beer. The malt gives a sweetness, while a small note of hop adds complexity to the flavour. It had a smoothness that the other beers tasted did not possess. As Banks’s Bitter is approximately half the price of the other beers, it was certainly the bargain of the selection.


Old Speckled Hen
(Suffolk)

This beer had the deepest red-amber of all and the best head. The coffee scent of the roast malt did not completely overpower a gentle hint of hop. By far the richest and least fizzy of the beers, Old Speckled Hen had the most complex flavour. Going through rich, roasted flavours and ending on a light hop finish. This was our unanimous favourite.

The winner of the evening:  Old Speckled Hen

The winner of the evening: Old Speckled Hen

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Categories: Beer Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

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9 thoughts on “Bearwood Brewhouse’s first beer tasting

  1. Mum

    good start but of course I’m no beer expert. [not sure if the like button works.

  2. Looking forward to seeing an English perspective on beer and brewing. Americanization of brewing styles is overwhelming in America and sometimes we lose sight of traditional beer styles.

  3. Tom

    Black Sheep is brewed about 20 minutes away from where I was born, so I’m kind of biased in its favour, but Speckled Hen is a solid choice nevertheless. Look forward to reading more of these!

    • Thanks Tom. We were a little disappointed when we worked out that was from the Black Sheep bottle but I think we’ll revisit it soonish anyway as we have a bottle of Progress to try which we will compare with Rigwelter and the normal Black Sheep.G

  4. If you guys enjoyed Speckled Hen, give Samuel Smith’s “Winter Welcome Ale” a try if you haven’t already. The main difference between WWA and Old Speckled Hen is that WWA is primarily hopped with Fuggles and OSH is predominantly East Kent Goldings and Challenger by all reports. I’ve always been a Fuggleshead as they are more “earthy” than EKGs. I think English ales like this are definitely a “love it or hate it” affair as the hops used with the particular malts teeter on a precarious balance. This is unlike American, German, or Belgian beers which are usually over the top in one way or another.

  5. Pingback: Black Sheep Progress | Bearwood Brewhouse

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