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Beer of the Week: Samuel Smith's Organic Ale

Unrepentant beer drinkers, rejoice! Each week, Clean Plate Charlie

will select one craft or import beer and give you the lowdown on it:

How does it taste? What should you drink it with? Where can you find

it? But mostly, it's all about the love of the brew. If you have a beer

you'd like featured in Beer of the Week, let us know via a comment.

When I was a teenager, a favorite past time of my best friend and I was to raid his father's liquor cabinet. There was stuff in there we'd never even heard of before. Shit, some of it I still haven't heard of. I mean, who drinks cream sherry? Lord Calvert? Creme de menthe? Nobody apparently. The stuff in his cabinet was so funky and old it was like James Brown dancing around on my tongue.

Looking back, though, there was something oddly attractive about that murky liquor taste. The flavors had grown in the bottle the same way an old chair learns the shape of your backside. Oddly enough, I got that same, musty alcohol flavor drinking a pint of Samuel Smith's Organically Produced Ale. But don't get me wrong: I really enjoyed it. 

Sam'l Smith's Old Tadcaster Brewery is not just a catchy name. The operation first started pumping out barrels in Yorkshire in 1758. Today it's one of three brewery's in Tadcaster, and the only independently owned and operated one. I imagine those old talks there have built up quite a patina over the years, one you can no doubt taste in the brew.

And this brew tastes old. Not in a bad way like skunky Bud, but in that "dark corner of the pub smoking a cigar and mumbling about the weather incoherently" way. It tastes like a bottle of scotch that's probably sat in your cupboard a bit too long, but through some strange mix of magic and luck has transformed into an earthy, almost intoxicating potent.

The Organic Ale pours thick like simple syrup and foams up with a head as thick as a pile of cotton balls. Underneath that is a sweet malt body that tastes vaguely like rock candy and white bread. There's a yeasty, biscuit smell that also lingers after each sip along with a trickling warmth. For a malty, low-hopped ale in the traditional English fashion, this beer drinks mighty easily. I downed a 550ml bottle without even thinking about it. I just started sipping, slinking back into my chair like a grumbling old coot, and before I knew it my glass was empty.

That at least is in direct opposition to my teenage drinking misadventures. I had to try hard to swallow that stuff. Samuel Smith's Old Ale, however, I could really put away.

Find it at ABC's Liquor. 

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John Linn

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