Ascot Ales Alligator (4.6%) And A Certain Symbol

Last night I opened a bottle of Ascot Ales’ Alligator and it got me thinking something that’s been hanging around in the back of my head for some time now.

Alligator pours a light amber with a reasonable head for a bottle conditioned beer.
This is very light in everything including flavour.
There is a definite smack of floral hops and the beer is nice and dry.
It’s quite an odd beer in that I find it strangely more-ish even though there’s very little to it.

What I find most interesting – and before various people jump on me from a great height, this is NOT an anti CAMRA rant – is what I have started to notice (and I think this has been mentioned before by other beer writers) about bottled conditioned beers with the “CAMRA Says this is Real Ale” symbol.
That is that they all taste, by and large, the same.
It’s not a bad flavour in any way.
In fact, as noted above, it’s generally most enjoyable.
But it is pretty bland in comparison to those “un-real” ales that we know and love.
Everything is slightly subdued and safe.
The hopping is floral and light and crisp.
The malt is biscuity and light and mellow.

On the other hand there are bottle conditioned beers without the label (Hopshackle for example) that taste extraordinary.

So, I’ve started to wonder.
Are CAMRA saying this is Real or are they saying this is Their Recipe?
Just a thought.

About Simon Williams

Founder of CAMRGB. Member of The British Guild Of Beer Writers. Leftist bigmouth. Old and grumpy.
This entry was posted in Beer Review, CAMRA, CAMRGB and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Ascot Ales Alligator (4.6%) And A Certain Symbol

  1. Curmudgeon says:

    In my experience, “CAMRA says this is real ale” all too often means “CAMRA says this is shite”. An awful lot of British BCAs from micro breweries show little or no sign of having actually conditioned in the bottle, fail to clear even having been stored upright for a week or more, and are as flat as a fluke. CAMRA’s insistence on bottle-conditioning as a touchstone for bottled beers is a superstition, no more.

  2. Steve says:

    They’re saying this beer should be carbonated naturally to give a particular mouth feel that real ale fans enjoy. This of course does affect flavour differently than forced carbonated pasteurised bottled or pasteurised/filtered/microfiltered keg.

  3. Jimmy says:

    I had that on cask 2 days ago. One of the most boring pints I’ve ever had. Not because CAMRA says it is real ale but because it is just not very good.

    I’ve also had plenty of beers with the CAMRA symbol on the bottle that are delicious. The last one being Hobsons Postmans Knock Porter, lovely stuff! But I see your point about bottle conditioning. Hardly any of the beers I’ve had with that symbol on it have shown signs of bottle conditioning, not even a little bit of sediment. It seems that breweries use it as a selling point, but perhaps they use it to try and make sure people know it has been bottle conditioned even though there is no evidence in the bottle or in the flavour?

  4. Gareth says:

    It could just be a case of brewers going for a certain market. If they’re making a beer to type, a traditional ‘ale’ and they feel sales will be enhanced by an association with Camra then they’d be crazy not to go for it. It’s presumably why many of these beers’ labelling etc. focusses on the traditional.

    I’d be interested to know how much bottle conditioning has to happen to make it qualify – surely there’s a point where you’d hardly notice. Also whether Camra charge for providing it as a service, use of their logo, testing to see if it comes up to the standard whereby they call it real ale etc.

  5. Ed says:

    Funnily enough CAMRA to not have a standard boring recipe they’re trying to impose on the brewing industry.

    To get the CAMRA logo you have to send some of your beer to Jeff Evan so he can confirm they qualify and provide tasting notes for the next edition of Good Bottled Beer Guide. Once it’s got the thumbs up from him you can use the logo.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *