Doom Bar from Sharp’s Brewery in Cornwall is reviewed by Matt Cottom.
The Doom Bar is the name of a sand bank, found in north Cornwall where the Camel River meets the Atlantic Ocean. Over the centuries it has carved out a reputation among for sailors for being unforgiving if not treated with adequate respect and given a wide berth. The Doom Bar we’re interested in, however, is the award winning beer from the increasingly popular brewer, Sharp’s of Cornwall.
Doom Bar is classic ‘brown beer’ coloured ale. It possesses copper and caramel tones in certain lights. The head is tight, thick and creamy with a slightly off-white colour to it.
Upon partaking in a huge inhalation of its fumes, I got rich malt biscuit with a tiny hint of vanilla ice cream, along with a yeasty bread element, hanging on for good measure. The hop character is not so obvious in the smell; the emphasis seems to be on sweetness of the malt. If you’ve ever done a home brew, this reminded me of the stage where you have mixed the malt with the water and left it for a bit, but not added any hops to the blend.
On the palate, Doom Bar could be one of two things. It is either subtle, or a little bit bland. This would depend on your persuasion. For me, the flavours are subtle and well balanced, though much of this does not appear until the finish. The hop bouquet appears more and more as you sip but never really reaches a rousing climax at any stage. It is more a gentle stroke of the face than a full on kick in the teeth á la some other bitters. There is the customary biscuit sweetness usually found in ‘best’ style bitters which is quickly joined by a smidge of peppery spice which lingers on the tongue and the roof of your mouth. The overall finish is relatively short but sweet and satisfying. For some reason, in my notes I have written ‘like a dwarf dipped in honey’, but I can’t begin to imagine what I could have meant by this. Still, you get the picture.
Doom Bar is becoming more and more popular in pubs up and down the land, thanks in part to its shiny new deal with Molson Coors who now own the brand and are able to produce it on a large scale as well as give the marketing team’s bottom line a couple of extra zeros.
Grab a pint, you won’t be disappointed. But neither will you be blown away. Doom Bar is like the Radio 2 of the bitter world: safe and middle of the road with mass appeal.