by Ashley Cotter-Cairns
Wells Bombardier: great bottle, too much of a sweety though
Wells Bombardier (5.2% ABV)
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It's weird, having grown so accustomed to drinking British bitters, to taste one that's really very sweet. But Bombardier is that, and how.
Whether you can get past the sweetness and enjoy the flavour is another matter... Still, you may find yourself delighted, as I was, by the bottle design, which is a full English pint and more patriotic than Enoch Powell kicking aside St. George and slaying the dragon himself (with racist rhetoric, rather than a sword, of course).
The ale pours very clear, a deep amber to ginger colour, with little or no head at all. For some reason, the lack of a head on beer always makes me a little uneasy. It's as if the beer refuses to give away any of its character.
You sometimes find this on very strong ales, but at 5.2% ABV, Wells Bombardier doesn't fall into that category. It's not a weakling by any means though. Nor is it particularly flat. I found it quite strongly carbonated. This wasn't immediately apparent in the mouth, but once you swallow a few pulls, you'll notice that you're feeling full and gassy.
Of course by then, you'll be interested in what's going on in your mouth rather than your stomach. Prepare your sweet tooth for a treat, or, if you prefer something described as "Premium Bitter" to actually taste like a bitter ale, prepare to be disappointed.
This is the Cadbury's Caramel of the bitter world. The strong caramel notes you'll find when you take a big sniff are replicated almost perfectly in the taste.
The texture is thin and rather syrupy. Almost (but not quite) cloying, like a slightly diluted cough syrup or the dreaded childhood laxative, Syrup of Figs. This is not to say I hate it.
It's tasty enough. I did find the aftertaste very long and lingering and this, combined with the gassiness I mentioned earlier, did more to put me off than the rather one-dimensional flavour.
Truth is, I'd struggle to drink more than one of these (even the one I shared was hard work). You don't expect a thin reddish ale to be such heavy going. Guinness
would be a fair comparison: it's more like a meal than a drink.
I'm afraid that people not 'into' English beer won't be won over by this one. Seduced as I was by the excellent bottle, Wells Bombardier Premium bitter tugged at the heartstrings but failed to score a direct hit in the guts.