Hen's Tooth Ale (bottle)
Scott gave me this bottle, telling me it was a sample from a vendor looking to sell these at the store. I took it home and figured, well, I've been drinking a lot of English Ales lately, guess one more won't hurt.
Pours rich reddish/orange, very hazy, with a thick brown-white head that thins but never really disappears. I've got to say that I love the presentation. Aroma is less pleasant -- when will breweries learn not to use clear bottles? A not-insignificant skunkiness permeates my nose at first, not so much that I don't get some sweet malty notes underneath.
Flavor is better, with a stronger hop bite than expected from an English Pale, mostly Kent Goldings and Fuggles I'm guessing. Strong sweet malt presence, hints of ripe fruit, and a significant yeasty quality, especially on the backend. Finishes bitter and slightly metallic. Mouthfeel is moderate, with a stiff carbonation and a strong hoppiness for an English Ale.
Is it fair to review a beer that has some skunked qualities? It's easy to argue against it, as the beer is clearly not in the state that the brewer intended, but it's also true that these bottles represent the state of the beer "in the wild," as it were. They brew the beer with significant hops, bottle it in clear bottles, and ship it halfway around the world -- to say that the condition of the beer is less than it would be straight out of the fermenter is to belabor the obvious. This bottle being a freebie from the vendor only makes this claim more specific, as the distributor clearly intended for this to be a sample bottle showcasing the beer's strengths. My review stands.
My overall BA rating: 3.5/5