An artisanally crafted blog curated by Cooking Lager for discerning readers of beer bloggery

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Freedom Lager - The best lager, and not probably

The best things in life are free. Indeed they are. And what is better than free beer? That’s not a rhetorical question, really what is better than free beer? If Alesha Dixon and the Irish one from Girls Aloud were to knock on my door and hand me some free beer personally and the lady squeeze had no problem with them coming in to neck it with me, I doubt it would be much better than getting some free beer in the post. What are probably the finest living Englishmen our nation possesses at Freedom Brewery in Staffordshire either wisely or unwisely offered to send me some free lout. In a decent country these men would have knighthoods.

If ever there was a reason to beer blog, this has to be it. Nice people hawking their lovely lout at you. Now some fellow beer bloggers might think there is something underhand about freebies, but I’m of the opinion that I never claimed to be honest, possess anything by way of integrity and absolutely and unequivocally love free beer. I love to receive it, I love to drink it and wholeheartedly welcome anyone that wants to give me anything by way of free grog. If you want integrity read Protzy’s blog on Freedom Lager. Such integrity is a feature of a bygone age. I am a product of Thatcherism and Blairism and it’s not my fault as I never voted for it. You get the generation you create and thus deserve.

Out of the four I started on the 4.7% Dark Lager that promised a Smooth Toffee Taste. I like toffees, but my reason for starting on this one was I thought it might be the one I liked the least. Start there and build up to the ones I expected to prefer. The bottle informs me I’m drinking a refreshing hand crafted organic lager rich in flavour and aroma. Brewed direct from a pure Staffordshire spring. Ingredients, water, organic malted barley, organic hops & yeast. Vegan approved & soil association marked.

Now these types of labels are meant to inform me I’m drinking a quality product and for the target market I suspect it would work. If you are going to market a premium product, you have to make it distinct enough from the generic so as not to market on price. I however as a devout follower of cheap grog tend to be put off by the words organic and the promise of flavour and aroma. Aroma tends to mean “pong” and “organic” tends to mean a con aimed at yogurt weaving, hemp and sandal wearing, guardian reading, prosperity guilt possessing, and environmentally concerned middle classes. Having no guilt in prosperity and being rather proud of my working class chav vulgarity despite a middle class professional occupation, in large part due to consecutive governments educating the lower orders, the word “organic” has less than zero appeal to me. It is usually something to avoid. However, this is free grog, so it’s time for an open mind and time to consume something organic. The absence of safe and scientifically researched pesticides in the agricultural process won’t harm me, after all people did live before pesticides. Not as long as they live now, but it didn’t kill them instantly. Time to put away trepidation that it might be pongy as proper blogger Lager Frenzy, who blogs properly and doesn’t write tosh like this rubbish warned me.

After a short discussion with the lady squeeze where I was informed I would not get to see Ice Road Truckers & a Horizon show on Dark Flow in the universe I settled down for a bit of What Katie did Next, and a show about a maternity ward, freeview+ing the Horizon show. If I was a real man I’d be an Ice Road Trucker. That’s a real man’s job. Not sitting in an office, sipping tea and avoiding work. I offered the squeeze half the bottle, to garner the female perspective on my free grog and another short discussion began regarding “People are sending you free lager because of some rubbish you write on the internet? Good God. At least it’s not porn. I guess I should be grateful for that”, before quickly ending as Katie Price began showing us her glamorous life.

The first thing to note is the colour, which comes out poorly on the photo. A light brown rather than the red tinge of my bargain basement digital camera. The colour of a light bitter beer, lighter than a Municher dunkel. Think of a can of Stones Bitter, that’s the colour. A sweet maltose aroma dominates but does not overwhelm the senses. This is an aroma, a fragrance, and nothing you could describe as a pong, and pretty enticing. Necking the decent stuff here I think. My mouth watered in anticipation, and the first swig did not disappoint. A rich malty lager and absolutely fantastic. I’ve not drank a wide variety of dark lager so have little to compare it with, but whilst say a south German dunkel beer kind of tastes like a Newcastle brown ale, this reminded me of a lighter and unpongy Old Speckled Hen Ale whilst retaining the essentials of quality lout.

Many pongy ale brewers think that they can appeal to lager drinkers with blond ale, thinking the darkness of ale is what puts punters off, so brew rank pongy golden ales with lager malt which has the effect on me of wanting a nice pint of Beck’s Vier. This dark lager is the opposite. As if someone thought, how can I make a lager that appeals to ale drinkers and copied the nicest aspect of ale, the mouth feel and sweet maltiness of crystal malt, and added that to a quality refreshing lager. The hybrid logic works better this way. A distinctive beer, uncommon in the market, with a wide appeal. I cannot image a beer drinker that wouldn’t like it, and if Woolpack Dave is still trying to find a lager he likes, give this a go fella. Further swigs had me thinking there might even be a surprise to the hopping, beyond the usual Saaz, Hallertau or Hersbrucker common in lagers, but frankly my taste buds are not up to that level of analysis, and to train my taste buds thus would involve growing a beard and wearing sandals myself. So I’ll stick to descriptions of drinkability and balance, of which this grog possessed in spades.

If this was the one I thought I’d like the least I cracked open the Organic Lager 4.8%, promising a Golden Caramel Taste (I love Cadburys caramel so thumbs up) with an almost indecent eagerness. This poured out with a golden hue that is neither the piss yellow of say a Bud, or the slight caramel hue of say a Carlsberg. A sparkly glass of golden delight. The aroma has a slight burnt dry quality which is reflected in the first swig. (Beer ought to be swigged, never tasted and never sipped. It’s beer). The dryness came through around the cheeks and top of the mouth, promoting another swig soon after. I swigged this one pretty quick. Dry beers tend to have a quality of wanting more. I could have necked a lot of this, had I been in the mood to get pissed. The dryness reminded me most, and it’s no insult, of the hop extract in an Oettinger Pils. Whilst Oettinger in known as being one of the cheaper German louts, it’s a quality beer. The ingredients of this bottle were the same as the previous, no mention of hop extract, so I presume Freedom have achieved the same effect by actually hopping the beer. Gorgeous stuff.

I have to pick a favourite, and whilst both are top grog, my prejudices were shattered and I confess to preferring the first darker beer. I might even be inclined to view the word “organic” with less general disdain after necking these brews. I shall be necking the Pilsner and 4% lout tomorrow night. Possibly in front of the football if Katie Price isn’t on the telly, and the squeeze lets me, and am looking forward to both.

In a shameless attempt to hawk more free beer off more nice people, I am insanely happy to receive free beer and happy to blog about it. It’s not much of a marketing opportunity as only half a dozen or so people read this rubbish, none of which are inclined to go out and buy any beer I recommend, but at least you’ll feel happy in your soul that you’ve brought pleasure to the life of a fellow human being. With so much conflict and disagreement in the world, the world would be a nicer place if more people gave free beer to other people, and someone has to receive free beer in order for someone to give it and I’m happy to receive it. If anyone else wants to send me free beer, yes please and thank you very much.


BLTP said...

had some of the toffe lout at the weekend the only thing wrong with it is the "toffee" bit as that wasn't the strongest taste to my mind. It was however a really good beer and a massive improvement on their previous beer. a winner.

Mark said...

A mention of crystal malt and beer poured into a Sierra Nevada shaker...?! The inner beer geek peeks through.

Andrew said...

Brilliant - and not pongy at all.

Whorst said...

To Dredge and all the other geeks, it's possible to love beer and restrain enthusiasm, so you don't come across like a kid in a sweet shop. Lets all hope the Cookster ISN'T ONE OF YOU FREAKS!

Leigh said...

wow. That was different. But...I like it. Some good beers, there.

Sid Boggle said...

He is Col. Sausage, he is... This is just the beginning B-)

Tyson said...

I see your future now. You are a partner in Cooking Spoon, the internet's biggest beer geek site. You and Dredge spend your time fighting over who should review Brewdog's brand new 155% beer-Relight the Hindenburg. Or the "Lout with the Clout" as your blog post will read.

Remember, resistance is futile.

First Stater said...

I'd like to send you some free cooking lager. Please post your name and address so I can get them in the mail.