Feckless from Red Willow brewery is reviewed by Chris Hall.
Feckless Best Bitter
Red Willow Brewery
Red Willow are a Macclesfield-based brewery which started life in 2010. In terms of their output and branding, they lie somewhere between Bristol Beer Factory and Magic Rock, with a core range of classic styles and seasonal varieties, packaged in simple yet undeniably stylish bottles. I must admit I am only just discovering their beer down South, and so far only in bottled format.
Feckless (see their website to see the full range of –less names, including Wreckless, Smokeless, Headless and Peerless) is Red Willow’s best bitter, and pours a mighty dark amber, bordering on mahogany. The head is light but lasting, and will lace up your glass a treat. The malts are in charge in its aroma, offering generous helpings of toffee pudding and a little coffee, though there is an unmistakeable dusty hopsack aroma that I would normally associate with strong, old-fashioned porter.
Indeed, the porter comparisons don’t end there. This is a full-on best bitter, with massive helpings of super-dry English hops, balanced perfectly on a medium-to-heavy malt body that just doesn’t quit. Its flavour profile is like Old Speckled Hen on steroids, rippling with malty muscle and hoppy punches. From its sweet, thick beginnings it develops to a heavyweight Challenger hop finish. Like it says on the bottle, it’s ‘a classic bitter, but a bit more so’.
Feckless tries to pass itself off as a high-quality, straightforward bitter, but there’s no mistaking the skill at play here. This is an impressive beer that simply refuses to be pigeonholed. Its simple yet beautiful branding may be just the thing to target the people it needs to win over: people that drink Bombardier and Hen who think that’s all that they like. Feckless is a classic, yet uncompromising English beer in craft-beer-scene disguise.