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Apr 2012

Elsie Mo, Castle Rock

Added: Monday, April 2nd 2012

Style Golden Ale ABV 5.0%

Castle Rock Elsie Mo (5%)

It’s good to find a bottle-conditioned beer from an independent brewery on the shelves of a major supermarket – a sign of the changing times, with giant retailers responding to consumer demand.

Following the fuss about Top Totty, a Staffordshire cask ale that was withdrawn from the House of Commons bar on the grounds that a pump clip showing a damsel in a bikini was sexist, Elsie Mo may raise a few hackles. The image of the woman on the Castle Rock label makes her Top Totty opposite number look positively undernourished and the slogan “full-bodied and irresistible” is not a subtle double entendre.

Best to discuss the beer. It comes from a Nottingham company founded by Chris Holmes, a former national chairman of the Campaign for Real Ale. It opened in 1998 and at first brewed some 30 barrels a week. A major expansion in 2010, with a substantial new brewhouse, has seen production increase to 300 barrels a week. The brewery supplies Castle Rock’s 22 pubs in the East Midlands and further afield through retailers. In 2010 its Harvest Pale was named Champion Beer of Britain at CAMRA’s British Beer Festival and put the brewery firmly on the national map.

The bottled version of Elsie Mo is uprated to 5% from the 4.7% cask beer. The beer’s name is a pun on the malt used: Low Colour Maris Otter or LCMO for short. There’s a touch of torrefied wheat for head retention while the hop range is made up of Challenger, Goldings and Styrian Goldings. It has a pale gold colour with a big collar of foam. It has a spritzy, lemon zest nose with pungent hop resins and creamy malt. Juicy malt and tart, spicy hop resins dominate the palate with a continuing lemon fruit note. The finish is quenching, with lemon zest dominating but underscored by creamy malt and bitter hops.

Rating: ****

Malt: moderate. Hops: high. Fruit: high.

Tesco stores, £2.15, 500ml bottle. Four bottles for £6.

Elsie Mo, Castle Rock