Whoops. I must have bought this one at my corner shop quite some time ago, because I found it in the kitchen last night, and it’s almost five months out of date.
In a way, that may be no bad thing, because as those with a keen eye will recognise, this is the old Old Thumper, a beer which was last year watered down from 5.6% to 5.1% and rebranded.
This could then be one of the very last bottles of the older, stronger stuff. Whilst it would be unfair to review a beer that had gone off, let’s give this one a chance. It’s long overdue that we should crack it open, pour it into an inappropriately-branded glass, and see if it has survived.
Pouring a rich, burnished bronze colour with a smallish tan head, I’m a tiny bit concerned that this one looks a little cloudier than I remember Old Thumper being. That said, it’s a long old while since I’ve had one, so I could be imagining it.
It smells just fine, with a peppery yet sweet and malty waft that’s highly reminiscent of Fuller’s ESB, perhaps no great surprise as Old Thumper belongs firmly within the same style of beer, and indeed the same chapter of The Book.
I’d better taste it. Well, there’s certainly nothing wrong with this one. It’s a good, strong-tasting beer, again very similar to the ESB. It’s rich and dark and and full of chewy malts and dried fruit.
There are citrus notes too, particularly mandarin, tangerine, that sort of thing. It’s actually a really tasty beer, and I’m wondering how on earth it managed to avoid getting drunk for so long.
I’m even starting to wonder if the extra time in the bottle might even have improved it, as there’s a robustness and a rich caramel sweetness that remind me strongly of another Fuller’s beer, the Vintage Ale. It’s lovely stuff, and I could drink another one, if it were still possible to buy it.
I suppose at some point I should try a bottle of the newer, weaker Old Thumper, but I do worry that it could be quite a disappointment if it turns out they’ve compromised it at all.
Facts and Figures
|Ringwood Brewery, Ringwood, Hampshire, England
|Extra Strong Beers and Bitters
|Jolly Good News, Rosendale Road, London SE24