This bottle was a birthday present from my in laws and I’ve been keeping it for some time, a lovely summer’s evening both Jess and I had free seemed a good moment to open it.
The presentation is lovely with a smart box, a beautiful painted bottle and a little booklet attached.
The beer is a special edition to mark twenty years of Black Sheep, 1992-2012. It’s 10% and described as “the ultimate expression of our tried and trusted brewing methods”, is made with Marris Otter malt and Progress hops and utilizes the traditional Yorkshire square fermenters that Black Sheep are so proud of.
Although we were slightly disappointed with the standard Black Sheep Ale in our first group test we essentially remain fans and I particularly like Riggwelter so we’ve been anticipating something pretty special here.
The bottle opens quite explosively with some beer frothing out of the top and immediately a fantastically rich malty scent pervades the room. Our glasses have a very good head at first though this dies down quite quickly and the colour is a russety brown.
When we finally taste the beer it starts off similar to the nose with strong treacle and dried fruit flavours, I got raisin, Jess got date. Once these pass you notice the high alchohol content, there’s a certain hint of port, sherry or even rum, and the unusually thin body for such a strong beer. Then there is the dry and bitter finish promised on the bottle; you can certainly taste the bittering from the hops though it’s a little sweeter than a normal bitter. Overall I think the beer tastes most like a very special, strong English bitter with incredible malt flavours but is really quite unique. In fact I think there’s a nice simplicity about it with it’s lightish body and without the yeast flavours you’d find in a strong Belgian ale. Very interesting, highly recommended.