Sunday, April 3, 2011

Review - Driftwood Naughty Hildegard Extra Special Bitter

The latest seasonal release from Driftwood Brewing, the popular Naughty Hildegard, hit stores this week and in some cases, quickly sold out. It is named for the 12th century Benedictine nun and abbess Hildegard von Bingen, who was famous for being a herbalist, mystic, musician, and natural healer. Hildegard's connection to beer comes from her writings, which contain the earliest known reference to the use of hops in beer, "(hops) when put in beer, stops putrification and lends longer durability."

The extra special bitter, or ESB, has always been a style that has confused me. The difference between it and an English IPA seems to be small. As far as I can tell from looking at the official style guidelines, the main difference is that an English IPA tends to have more finishing hops and an ESB more of a caramel or fruity character; if anyone can further enlighten me feel free to write and let me know. Perhaps it's partially a marketing thing, the idea of an English IPA may make a hop lover think boring, (sorry Moon Under Water) an ESB (with a picture on the label of a saucy nun holding a shwack of hops in her skirt) sounds exotic, and satisfying.

Hildegard von Bingen
This version of Naughty seems to be going for a more traditional approach, that according to Driftwood Brewing's website has "a decidedly English hop character this year." In the glass it is a bright and beautiful shade of deep red amber. Its aroma is pleasing to the hop head with a distinct bouquet of floral hops. The entry is filled with the taste of very green and floral hops that blend into a grassy hop flavour. This flavour in turn blends into a nicely bitter finish. Overall, for a hop lover this is a great drinking beer with a nice malt backbone for balance and if this sounds up your alley, I would recommend it highly.
Rating: Very Good

PS If this is a beer that really does it for you, why not attend one of the upcoming cask events featuring this fine brew? The Beagle in Cook Street Village will tap their cask Friday, April 8th at 5 o'clock. On Saturday the 9th, there will be a cask at the Strath on Douglas street; she starts flowing at 3 o'clock. I'll be at the Strath on Saturday, and if you've not attended a cask event before you should check it out, it's definitely a good time.

1 comment:

  1. Naughty was in good supply at the Penny Farthing Wine Shop last night - April 4th!