I'm always going to get a little giddy if I spy an attractive bird on the bar - it's just instinctive you see. Having spent/wasted the better part of my life fascinated by all things feathered, it's not easy to ignore avian themed beers whilst touring my favourite locals. More often than not though the ale turns out to be nowhere near as interesting as the artwork advertising it - but I'm never deterred.
And so it was with great good fortune that, whilst perusing the line up at the King's Head on Huddersfield's station platform this afternoon, I bumped into Great Oakley's knockout 3.9%er, Wagtail. Brewed, according to the GBG notes, with New Zealand hops, this beautifully scented and perfectly balanced award-winning session ale would easily make my top ten beers of the year, even without the exquisitely detailed motacilla alba on the pump clip.
From the wonderful initial lychee aroma to it's final lingering bitterness, this ale has all the hallmarks of a classic - very much in the mould of Roosters Yankee back in the days when that particular revolutionary beer destroyed all in it's path. Seldom have I been so impressed with a beer I had little prior knowledge of - the only negative being that the rest of my day was all downhill taste-wise!
Although largely unfamiliar with this four year old Northamptonshire brewery's output, I did note that birds aren't a recurring theme as they are say at Cotleigh, so I guess there's probably a story behind this particular brew. Whatever that is, I'm inspired enough to put together a list* of my all time favourite bird-themed beers, possibly by Christmas, so watch out for that. In the meantime go get your lips around a wag, it most certainly won't have you spitting feathers!
* Note to Timbo: Your Castle Rock recommendations (Sparrowhawk in particular) need not apply!