O-Garden is reviewed by Chris Hall
Otley Brewing Co, Pontypridd
In calling their beer O-Garden, Pontypridd’s Otley Brewing Co have made it quite clear who they’re taking aim at. For those of you unaware of the genre-defining Belgian Wit (white) beer that is Hoegaarden, it’s a sweet-and-sour, creamy, citrusy, cloudy beer that, like Guinness, is often bought by beer-lovers unable to get what they really want. So is this merely an over-ambitious tribute act? Or are we looking at a real contender?
Otley have certainly got the image right: pale, white-wine coloured wit beer with a satisfying haze that develops vertically into a bountiful head of aromas. Naturally, those aromas are lemony, wheaty and accented with herby notes of coriander. A sour, yeasty character runs behind all of this, setting things up nicely for that first sip.
Here is where Otley’s tribute act leaves the original article for dust. Things start off tart, with lip-puckering lemon flavours, that become sweet like curd before becoming creamy. The finish is soft, spicy and gradual; letting each flavour wave goodbye before leaving an aftertaste of key lime pie.
This is an impressive beer. It must be said that unfortunately the freshness to the beer begins to waver after the half-way point (as with many wheat beers), but what you are left with is still miles ahead of most of O-Garden’s competitors. O-Garden is a superb wheat beer, and should by no means be judged solely against Hoegaarden, though if you must judge it so, you may be pleasantly surprised by this plucky, characterful wheat beer. This is an example of a beer seemingly utterly textbook in its approach, and yet surprisingly innovative by simply doing everything right. It’s as refreshing to see as this lovely beer is to drink.