The Session: Brew Zoo X2

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This mon­th’s ses­sion is host­ed by Lyke2Drink:

Have you ever noticed how many ani­mals show up on beer labels? We have lions and tigers and bears, plus var­i­ous birds, rep­tiles, fish, assort­ed domes­ti­cat­ed and wild ani­mals, plus a few myth­i­cal crea­tures. For what­ev­er rea­son brew­ers have a tra­di­tion of brand­ing their beers using every­thing from pets to preda­tors. The Brew Zoo will cel­e­brate these lagers and ales.

A cou­ple of Ses­sions back, we dropped the ball and end­ed up review­ing Sri Lankan Lion stout instead of a local beer as we were sup­posed to. We’re mak­ing up for it this time by review­ing the beers of a local brew­ery which also hap­pen to fill an entire bird sanc­tu­ary. And with a whole bonus post about a bird-themed beer from Spain.

Cotleigh is a brew­ery based in Wivelis­combe, Som­er­set – a coun­ty most famous for being where Bai­ley was born and grew up, hence the claim to local­i­ty.

The beers in their range include Tawny Owl, Barn Owl, Buz­zard and Pere­grine Porter, amongst many oth­er birds of prey.

We’ve tried them all at one time or anoth­er. Pere­grine Porter is a love­ly bot­tle con­di­tioned porter/stout, which tastes sim­i­lar to anoth­er fruity Som­er­set porter, RCH’s Old Slug. Tawny Owl is a bog-stan­dard cop­per coloured bit­ter which we drank in a pub in Beer, Dorset, ear­li­er this year whilst the locals dis­cussed their haul from the wreck of the MSC Napoli (“I got two pair of Adi­das”).

buzzard.jpgThe only one of their range we’ve got handy right now is a bot­tle of Buz­zard (thanks, Bai­ley’s mum and dad). It used to be called “Old Buz­zard” and is a bot­tle con­di­tioned “strong ale”, although not real­ly that strong at 4.8%. The ingre­di­ents include pale, crys­tal and choco­late malt, with Gold­ings, Fug­gles and North­down hops. It’s accent­ed towards burnt cof­fee flavours, with some Rauch­bier smok­i­ness. It matures in the bot­tle, this one tast­ing much dri­er and smok­i­er than the one from the same batch we drank in Feb­ru­ary. In the glass, it looks almost black, with a great big pil­lowy tan head which stays for­ev­er.

We guess it would go nice­ly with rich roast­ed meats… or with the big hunks of rot­ting flesh we’ll be feed­ing Cotleigh Buz­zard in the Ses­sion zoo.

And, just in case we’re strug­gling to get a full set of ani­mals for the Brew Zoo, Cotleigh’s Christ­mas beer is the cheesi­ly named Rein­beer. Groan.

We got our bot­tle of Buz­zard from the excel­lent spe­cial­ist beer shop Open Bot­tles, in Bridg­wa­ter, Som­er­set (01278 459666).

++ STOP PRESSBONUS POST FROM BOAK, OUR CORRESPONDENT IN SPAIN ++

My con­tri­bu­tion from Spain is “Aguila” (eagle) from Ams­tel. I think this is still part of the Heineken group.

Two years ago in ¡diz (south west Spain) we ordered a cou­ple of cañas and were tak­en aback by the tasti­ness of the beer – in con­trast to the usu­al refresh­ing but bland fizz, this stuff had real body and flavour, rather like Mean­time’s much lament­ed “Gold­en Beer”. We asked what it was, but because my Span­ish was pret­ty crap then, I could only make out “a‑GEE-la” or some­thing like that. The next round he brought us some­thing dif­fer­ent.

A few days lat­er, we spot­ted Águila (from Ams­tel) on tap (that´s AH-geela, a sub­tle pro­nun­ci­a­tion dif­fer­ence, pos­si­bly?), and obvi­ous­ly went for it. It was the usu­al bland fizz.

We couldn´t work out what had hap­pened. Was it actu­al­ly Águila we had in ¡diz? Was the stuff in this cafe just not right?

To this day, it is still a mys­tery. ´ve had plen­ty of drinks from an Águila tap but wouldn´t say there was any­thing spe­cial about it. Now, ´m not sure that there is a beer called Águila pro­duced any­more – it´s not men­tioned on Amstel´s offi­cial site, nor can you find it in bot­tles. But the pumps are quite cool, with a big eagle on top, so it´s not incon­ceiv­able that land­lords decid­ed to keep the pumps even if the spe­cif­ic prod­uct no longer exists.

I do still won­der what it was we had in Cadíz that day, because it was def­i­nite­ly dif­fer­ent. I can´t think of any oth­er beers that sound like “ah-GEE-la”, so I won­der if it was one of the last bar­rels of the old stuff? To fur­ther com­pli­cate things, I believe Águila was actu­al­ly a brand tak­en over by Ams­tel, so maybe it was the orig­i­nal, which has now been replaced by the bor­ing Dutch brew?

We might nev­er know. Unless any of you guys can help…?