We’ve had another beer mixing breakthrough: Leffe Blonde mixed with cask bitter does wonderful things.
This idea came to us as we struggled through two miserably buttery halves of Bath Ales Gem at one of the stops on our #EveryPubInBristol mission.
On the table next to us two French speakers were having animated business discussion over a laptop while swigging bottles of Leffe, one of a handful of a big brand beers on offer in the fridges behind the bar.
We fired thoughts back and forth in quick succession:
“Maybe we should ditch these and split a bottle of Leffe.”
“Huh. It’s funny how you can’t get a bottle of Gold Label barley wine in the pub these days but you can get Leffe.”
“Hmm. They’re quite similar beers, really — strong, golden, fruity…”
“Are you thinking…?”
“It can’t hurt to try.”
The bottle cost about £4.50 and we ended up with about a 50-50 mix each. It immediately looked appealing — fluffy head, amber hue — and gave off the familiar Leffe banana aroma.
One sip was enough, we knew it had worked.
Leffe is too sweet and syrupy for us these days, but like this, the cask ale lightened the body and added bitterness.
The ale, which had seemed lifeless and dominated by one off-flavour, was revived.
Did it remind us of something like Palm Speciale? Maybe.
Leffe isn’t a perfect substitute for Gold Label because, though Belgian beer aficionados might not rate it, it does have a distinct Belgian yeast character. But based on our experience, it is in fact better than Gold Label, which can, even when blended with draught beer, seems merely boozy and sugary.
We’ll be trying this again when we find ourselves in pubs with off-the-peg bottle ranges and mediocre cask beer.
We can also imagine some interesting supermarket mixing opportunities — Banks’s Bitter + Leffe Blonde might make for an interesting and cost-effective combo, for example.