Magical Mystery Pour #18: Wold Top Marmalade Porter

Marmalade Porter bottle -- orange label against blue background.

This is the last of the beers chosen for us by David Bishop (@broadfordbrewer/@beerdoodles) and it’s another from Yorkshire, this time Driffield, out east near the North Sea coast.

It’s not real­ly a part of the world we know at all, dim­ly remem­bered child­hood hol­i­days in Scar­bor­ough and Whit­by aside, but if you fan­cy a treat, spend a few min­utes look­ing at the map: Naf­fer­ton, Wet­wang, Fri­daythor­pe, Thwing! It’s a nev­er-end­ing plea­sure.

We’ve had a few beers from Wold Top and always been impressed, and mar­malade porter is a won­der­ful­ly mouth­wa­ter­ing phrase. Can the beer live up to it? David says:

A wild card choice.  I had a bot­tle of this a while back and based on the descrip­tion of the beer I must have enjoyed it? Right?

We got our 500ml bot­tle from Beer Ritz at £3.36. Its ABV is 5% and some will be inter­est­ed to know that it is also gluten free.

As part of his list of sug­ges­tions David also includ­ed Samuel Smith Tad­dy Porter, our favourite UK ver­sion of the style, which we decid­ed to use as a bench­mark for judg­ing Wold Top Mar­malade, with a view to work­ing out ret­ro­spec­tive­ly how might have fared in our big porter taste-off back in 2014.

Marmalade Porter in the glass.In the glass it’s one of those beers that looks almost black and until you let a light through it when it reveals itself as a rich, clear red-brown. It did­n’t seem to smell of much apart from a whiff of met­al. The taste was quite over­whelm­ing, how­ev­er – like the dying embers of a bon­fire. As we got used to the smoke a bit of but­ter came through, prob­a­bly a bit more than some would enjoy, but tol­er­a­ble to us. We did­n’t real­ly pick up any hint of mar­malade or orange flavour, though the copy on the label and its evoca­tive colour­ing almost fooled our sens­es.

It’s an earthy beer, not smooth or lux­u­ri­ous, the bit­ter­ness bad­ly want­i­ng some dried fruit char­ac­ter to bal­ance it out. It feels as if it was hacked from raw wood with an axe rather than being the result of del­i­cate crafts­man­ship. It’s like drink­ing a gar­den shed. This is not nec­es­sar­i­ly a bad thing (rus­tic would be the pos­i­tive spin) but it’s not quite what we look for in a porter. Our gut instinct – just a guess – is that the prob­lem is the result of a heavy hand with the dark crys­tal and black malts.

Let’s bring in Sam Smith here: Tad­dy Porter is wine-like, almost creamy, defined by its sug­ars, with every hard edge round­ed away. In every way, it’s a bet­ter beer, as far as we’re con­cerned. At £3.18 for 550ml from Beer Ritz it’s also a (slight­ly) bet­ter val­ue option.

In the end, though the words above might not quite con­vey it, we did enjoy the Wold Top beer and would cer­tain­ly drink it again, but only pas­sive­ly, if it drift­ed in front of us. Would it have made the final in our porter taste off? Prob­a­bly not. But it cer­tain­ly con­firms our impres­sion of Wold Top as an inter­est­ing brew­ery whose beers are worth explor­ing fur­ther.

4 thoughts on “Magical Mystery Pour #18: Wold Top Marmalade Porter”

  1. Fun­ni­ly enough, a bot­tle of this did drift in front of me recent­ly as some­one left a bot­tle of it at my house and I drank it. I would nev­er have bought it as I don’t real­ly like mar­malade. How­ev­er it con­tains no mar­malade and does­n’t taste of mar­malade at all. I have no idea why they call it that. I found it a bit thin and insub­stan­tial.

  2. I think that will inspire me to buy a bot­tle of Tad­dy Porter next time I’m in the Bot­tle Stop in Bramhall. Only £2.20 a bot­tle there, as well 😀

  3. I hol­i­dayed few miles from wold brew­ery this year so drank fair bit of their stuff. Brew­ery run by friends of friends, def­i­nite­ly good peo­ple. Rus­tic seems well cho­sen word. I’ll admit despite access to var­i­ous wold beers at four for six quid super­mar­ket prices still not beers I keep com­ing back to. Mem­o­ries tell me I could pick up hint of mar­malade in last bot­tle I had, got me think­ing, might need anoth­er to refresh mem­o­ry.

  4. I Love the gar­den shed ref­er­ence. I remem­ber the taste of my grand­par­ents’ wood­en ban­nis­ter (I’ve prob­a­bly even left teeth marks in it) and use that tast­ing note lib­er­al­ly. Some beers remind me of the atmos­phere in met­al­work sheds too. The com­bi­na­tion of taste­buds and olfac­to­ry bulb con­jure evoca­tive images. Keep it up.

Comments are closed.