Against The Grain, the gluten-free beer from Wold Top Brewery, is reviewed by Steve Crotty. Part of our Wold Top Brewery take-over issue.
“Bottle number three of my Wold Top tour and I am now in a position to make certain observations about how Wold Top’s brewery style affects their beers…”
Against The Grain
Wold Top Brewery
Bottle number three of my Wold Top tour and I am now in a position to make certain observations about how Wold Top’s brewery style affects their beers. Firstly, there may be a lively head when the beer is first poured or there may not, but either way this head will disappear to nothing in less than a minute. Secondly, any carbonation, however lively on initial pouring, will quickly die down leaving only a trace amount of bubbles heading for the surface. Thirdly, based on my last two bottles, this in no way affects the quality of the beer itself.
Against The Grain is Wold Top’s niche, their official gluten-free ale (although so is their Scarborough Fair IPA, but never mind) that is made using maize instead of wheat. Ultimately it’s a shrewd marketing ploy, as it makes the company stand out from their competitors. Congratulations as well must go to their marketing department. I haven’t mentioned this yet, but each bottle’s label is rustically stylish without being corny (if you want corny see their early 2002 labels before the aesthetic overhaul). It’s little things like this that make the bottle stand out on the shelf.
Unfortunately the beer itself doesn’t stand out in any way. On the nose there is a hint of bitterness from the hops and a dash of fruit. When I say a dash I mean this literally, it was there and gone before I had time to even decipher what it was. Since I think using the generic term ‘citrus’ is lazy though, I’m going to be outlandish and say it was kumquat I smelt. It probably wasn’t.
On the tongue you again get hints of that bitterness and fruit that now whips off its disguise to reveal itself as mango (I was close . . . .kind of). These flavours are too muted though, and the overriding experience is one of drinking boozy water. I could see them trying to market it as session ale, as I had to stop myself drinking it in three large gulps. At 4.5% ABV it really should have some more flavour than this.
The ironic thing is that the beer this most reminded me of was Blue Moon, that famous and delicious WHEAT beer, if Blue Moon had been deprived of its essence. This is incredibly smooth and eminently drinkable in large quantities. The problem is it’s likely that after a couple, you’re going to want to move to flavour country. Not bad, but the worst of the three Wold Toppers I’ve had so far.