My relationship with Fuller’s starts a long way back. Aged five or six, the highlight of my weekend was proudly carrying my dad’s empty tins of London Pride to the recycling bin, where I would happily stomp them flat.
Things have changed a bit since then, most notably that I prefer to pick up my tins of London Pride full these days. But I’ve also broadened my horizons beyond the limits of the Fuller’s flagship.
Golden Pride, 8.5%
In yet another staggering display of self-control and good judgement, I started my tasting with the strongest. 8.5% is no joke.
While the word Golden sits in the name (proudly, we can assume), this beer is more of a deep copper in colour. If I’m not being forced to stick with a metal, I’d say it looks more like polished walnut, demonstrating both my knowledge of different materials and fancy car interiors.
Golden Pride smells warm and alcoholic, like raisins soaked in brandy. There’s some toasty notes, too – that crystal malt mentioned on the label coming out to play. It’s sweet on the palate, with raisin and cherry notes. In many ways, it’s like drinking a Christmas pudding.
It’s not a bad beer. But with this much alcohol, they could have done so much more. 2/5
Bengal Lancer, 5.3%
The Lancer is a burnished gold with a white head that dissipates over the course of a few minutes. It’s slightly cloudy, too, a legacy of it having been bottle conditioned, which I like.
Warm and malty on the nose, with hints of floral honey and a little spicy ginger. Then it hits the tongue like a lance, with an intense, floral, hoppy start, and then…nothing. A pause, before the astringent, bitter finish. It’s a strange sensation, and not at all unpleasant. 3/5
London Porter, 5.4%
Given this is a London brewery, I’m surprised I haven’t come across this classic London style sooner.
The London Porter looks, perhaps unsurprisingly, like a porter. It’s a deep, cola brown, with a caramel head that quickly vanishes.
The nose is pretty typical as well: smokey patent malt, black coffee, but a delightful undertone of black cherries. The cherries make a comeback on the palate too, now with chocolate. We’ve moved onto drinking black forest gateau.
Sour cherry lingers on the finish. I’ll be coming back for more. 4/5
Apparently the big deal with this number is that it’s been bottle conditioned “to perfection” for 100 days. Now, I have a problem with this – how long has it been sitting on a shelf somewhere? If it’s been in the bottle for even 101 days, that’s past its best.
Walnut again, much like the Golden Pride. The nose is malty, but not terribly strong – given it’s 6.3%, I’d have expected a little more.
The flavour comes forth more prominently, to my relief. More of that malt, with some fruitier, blackcurrant notes coming through. The finish is more blackcurrant, with a hint of iron. Smooth as hell, and none of the dregs or cloudiness I’d have expected from a bottle conditioned beer, strangely.
Despite its strength, there’s no alcoholic edge to 1845 – it’s warm and fuzzy throughout. It’s not perfect, but then, perhaps I drank it at 101 days. 3/5