West Berkshire Brewery Dr Hexter’s Healer (500ml, 5.0%)

The West Berkshire Brewery started out in 1995, which makes them almost veterans of the new British beer scene. I’ve been sampling their beers for years because my sister-in-law lives very close to them, and frequently buys me bottles for my birthday.

Lots of beers have claimed to be good for you, none more so than Guinness, who founded whole advertising campaigns on it. The West Berkshire Brewery goes one further by making this beer sound almost like a prescription. The nurse will now administer your medicine …

In the glass Dr Hexter’s is amber, with a thin, lacy head that gives off aromas of toffee and honey.

West Berkshire Brewery I’ve always thought the word “balance” is overused in beer descriptions. “A balance of malt and hops” tells you nothing about a particular beer – it’s more a statement of what beer is! But balance seems to be right word for this one. A robust level of alcohol gives it body and the sweet caramel from the malt is perfectly countered by bitter marmalade from the hops. Everything works together, like a rowing team pulling you closer and closer to a metaphor that doesn’t quite work. The tangy, hoppy aftertaste seems to rise to the roof of the mouth, as if making a beeline for the brain.

This is definitely one for the traditionalists: a very satisfying, strong pale bitter.

The morning after drinking this, I had no hint of cold, flu, muscular aches … Okay, so I didn’t have any of these maladies before, but can anyone prove that I wouldn’t have developed them overnight? I didn’t think so. Proof of beer’s healing powers!

Written by Richard Salsbury

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