Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Boddingtons Pub Ale Review

Brewery: Boddingtons | Beer: Boddingtons Pub Ale
Style: English Pale Ale
| ABV: 4.7%
Serving Method: 16 oz. nitro-can poured into pint glass

Boddingtons Pub AleBoddingtons is one of the most ubiquitous time-honored of the British imports, reviewed here in the sixteen ounce nitro-widget can that Guinness Draught made famous (although in the US Guinness Draught comes in 14.9 oz. cans). This beer was brewed for over 200 years at the Strangeways Brewery in Manchester. The company, also named Boddingtons, managed to keep its independence until 1989, when it was sold to Whitbread. Whitbread, mainly a hospitality company, decided to sell their portfolio of brewers to Beligian megabrewer Interbrew in 2000. Who, of course, became InBev when they merged with Brazilian brewing giant AmBev. You might recognize the name InBev, as they recently bought American brewing titan, Anheuser-Busch. Bud Light and Boddingtons step-cousins, who would have thought?

So, Boddingtons is now just another great historic brand rolled up into the faceless InBev corporation. But, all corporate angst aside, what really matters is what's inside the can. Growing up, this beer was always a fixture around the house, becoming one of the main poster children of "good beer" to me. When I started really drinking and appreciating beer, this was one of the first beers I counted as one of my favorites. However, people still curse me for getting them to try a sip of Boddingtons in years past, and I'm not really sure as to why.

By the way, if you have ever wondered why the logo features two bees on a cask, allow me to explain. Manchester's coat of arms features a (modest) swarm of bees as a symbol of efficient industry. The bees became a symbol of the city and are featured on Manchester's Town Hall floor, many public fixtures around the city, and on every can of Boddingtons. Now that you know, and we can proceed with the rest of the review as scheduled.

Appearance: Brilliantly clear honey (how appropriate) colored body. Thanks to the widget, the head is amazingly dense, creamy, and measures a full two fingers. Great fun to pour and watch with interesting little bubbles that cling to the glass. I could watch this all day, not quite as cool as the Guinness cascade, but certainly worth the cost of admission. Even after the head settles, this is an exceptionally pretty beer. The head rides all the way down to the bottom of the glass, leaving sudsy lacing behind.

Aroma: Clean and crisp with roasted malt and hints of a floral, hoppy bitterness. A little thin, to be sure.

Taste: Bitter up front with some dry, roasty malt flavors in the back. At times, you can pick up a juicy, fruity sweetness that reminds me of British wine gums. A nice combination, but nothing that's going to change your world.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, creamy, and soft - when I think of an exceptionally creamy beer, this immediately springs to mind. Mouthfeel is really one of the highlights of canned Boddingtons and just another reason to bow down to the widget. The aftertaste is pleasantly bitter.

Drinkability: While bitter, the alcohol content is relativity low, so if it suits your taste you can drink this all night (much like Guinness).

Verdict: A very different beer, Boddingtons in a can is an experience all beer lovers should try at least once. Perhaps the taste is not the most remarkable in the English Pale Ale category, but the appearance and mouthfeel are so unique that the beer will always stand out to me. A worthy survivor of more than two centuries.

Grade: B+


Anonymous said...

More mediocre beers could have aesthetic effect with a widget.

Michael Jackson's Avatar said...

This beer is good as gold, but don't drink it out of the can unless you're ready for a surprise!!! I did and it made me sheet my pants man.

Anonymous said...

this is a FAV beer of mine, I prefer the cream ale & taste is smooth. I was surprised at the reviews of this beer, critics gave it C's & B-. The critics of this beer probably care for a more heavy, bolder taste bud. If you like pale ales that have a mellow, smooth, medium taste, Boddingtons is the beer for you :)

jady said...

This beer was just recommended to me, and I agree completely with you review. Interesting, to be sure, something to experience once, yup. But am I glad I got a backup 6-pack of Left Hand Milk Stout? You betcha.