Fred in London (330ml, 11.0% ABV) Siren Craft 

‘Fred in London’ is named for the late Fred Eckhardt, a pioneer of the American beer scene. He started homebrewing when it was still illegal in the States*, and was also a celebrated beer writer, historian and critic.

It’s common to get a beer that showcases hops (American pale ale, for example) or malt (most stouts and porters), but it’s less usual for alcohol to be the star of the show.

Fred in London seems like an innocent enough name for a beer, and it comes in a bottle with a friendly pink label. The first hint of danger is in those double digits of alcohol.

Fred In London It also looks innocuous in the glass, with an amber colour that could have you mistaking it for a bitter, if it weren’t for the fact that it has almost no head. One sniff, though and you know you’re in for something potent. There’s a hint of malt aroma, but it’s swamped by the smell of booze.

On the tongue it’s a heady mix of raisins, toffee and caramel, with a thick, syrupy mouthfeel and bubbles that appear out of nowhere. The aftertaste is of warming spirits and overindulgence.

The hops must be in there somewhere, otherwise it would be too sweet. There must be a ton of malt to get this much alcohol, but the typical tastes of bread or toast or crackers can’t survive this kind of alcohol onslaught. It’s halfway to a brandy or a whisky, and a reminder of just how varied the humble beer can be.

Written by Richard Salsbury

* 1978, fact fans; although in Alabama and Mississippi you couldn’t make your own until 2013!

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