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Bath Ales Gem

Rating: 3.55

My second Bath Ales beer now, this one following hot on the heels of their Wild Hare pale ale that I reviewed here recently. This one is another that I picked up from Whole Foods Market at the start of the month and is a beer I’ve been keeping a lookout for over the last few months, having previously failed to try it when visiting Bath at the end of last summer. This one is a beer that is very popular in the south-west of England, I believe it is one of the best-selling bottled craft beers in the UK too, possibly placing as high as second behind Punk IPA but don’t quote me on that as I can’t find the article I think I read it in now. The beer is my first premium bitter in quite a while so it should act as a good refresher on the style and is one that I was actually quite surprised to find didn’t make the 1001 beers list given its popularity in southern England, perhaps that’s a fairly recent things though. Gold medal winner and best ale up to 5% at the 2014 International Beer Challenge, as well as a silver medal winner in 2015, the beer should be a good one despite the fact that the brewery changed hands last year and is now owned by the St. Austell Brewery Company after the acquired the Bath Ales portfolio for an undisclosed in July of last year; hopefully the beer itself hasn’t suffered though.


Appearance (4/5): Pouring quite a dark, almost caramel amber colour this one has a fairly clear body and a thin, foamy white head on top that’s more of a thin lacing than anything else really; there’s a little more build up around the edges but for the most part it is just a patch of foam in the centre of the surface.
Aroma (7/10): Quite sweet but not overly so, this one opens with a nice combination of caramel and toffee notes before some burnt sugars and very subtle toasted malts start to come through. There’s a little bit of biscuit following on behind plus some earthy notes start to make themselves known nearer the middle of the beer. Towards the end there is a some roasted malts and even a hint of chocolate coming through as well but it was subtle and fleeting. The beer was rounded off with an earthy bitterness and faint citrus notes that seemed to work well together.
Taste (7/10): Opening with the toffee that carried on from the nose, the beer didn’t seem quite as sweet but there was at least some showing with touches of caramel not far behind. I could detect a few brown sugars and toasted malts nearer the middle with biscuit and bread ones nothing featuring before an earthy bitterness showed alongside some subtle earthy hops.
Palate (3/5): Sweet with a light tang at points, this one had a medium body and proved to be a well-balanced offering that was a little basic and one-dimensional but still a pretty drinkable beer. While not as good as the bottle of Wild Hare I had from the brewery last, this one was also a good session beer that went down easily enough but without really exciting at any point. There as some nice malts showing at times and the toasted malts/toffee flavours were a nice addition but I was expecting it to be a little more varied and at times a little stronger too.

Overall (15/20): Nice stuff again from Bath Ales but probably not quite as enjoyable a beer as their Wild Hare pale ale that I tried last. This one was obviously a little darker and the sweetness seemed more pronounced at times with a nice combination of darker malts, toasted flavours and some sugars that complimented the caramel and toffee flavours nicely. Nothing seemed overdone and a good balance was maintained throughout, making this one another decent session offering but I’m probably go back to other beers before having this one again; still it’s definitely a nice beer and well worth trying.

Brewed In: Bristol, England
Brewery: Bath Ales
First Brewed: 2002
Type: Extra Special/Strong Bitter (ESB)
Abv: 4.8%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Whole Foods Market (Giffnock)
Price: £1.79

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