Before the chaos of the previous post I managed to wander down to the Rat & Ratchet. This is a pub I used to use almost daily but because of various circumstances my visits have become less than frequent. That being the reason I have missed out on the Rat Brewery 'Grapes Of Rat' prior to today.
I never managed to get the cask version (a pin went in 5 hours on launch night), but had to satisfy myself with the keg variety. (There is a bottled version too but at £15 it seemed a step too far),
I had heard lots of interesting things about it, some good, some less so. My chance for a subjective assessment. Well, to be honest, I wasn't that impressed, but when I thought about it the reasons may be quite complex.
The beer is a barley wine and is 10%. I am used to cask barley wine, which usually gives a warmth as you sip it, savouring the complexities within. By chilling it for keg, there is a distinct change in character. There are still complex flavours there but they seem to be diminished and it was difficult to pick any specifics out. It also did not seem to drink its strength -which is a shame for a barley wine. So it is possibly the mechanics of the brewing at fault rather than the beer itself.
I would like to revisit the beer, may be in cask or bottle to see if they are better options than the keg. And I will try the keg again to see if I was just unlucky. And if I can get hold of more barley wines on keg I will try them to see if my assumption is correct. Research is a hard job !!!