This week’s beer is interesting; partly because I’m not all that keen on it, but also because the brand is quite deceiving. Here’s the low-down…
I’d noticed the new brand Metropolitan Brewing and the association with UK Supermarket, Tesco some time ago. But, to be honest, I’d all but ignored them – assuming it would just be another attempt from the behemoth at reaching “this new and happening craft beer scene”. Ultimately, I figured it would be an insignificant brew.
Recently, however, the store was having a clear out through reductions, so at 51 pence per bottle, I decided to give it a shot – why the heck not.
Thinking I’d got a bargain, I returned home and proceeded to check the label out while unpacking; I was interested more than anything to find out who Metropolitan Brewing were. New brewery? Interesting, right!?
But alas, it was at this point I realized I’d been swindled….
The beer is actually brewed by Greene King. Yep, the very same brewery behind the UK’s best-selling bottled ale, Old Speckled Hen.
Now, I don’t have anything against Greene King as such – their beers are what they are, they’re a larger regional brewery, and they’re not the most exciting brewer – but they have their place. What makes me slightly cross is the cynical approach of trying to pass one of their beers off as a small independent.
Yes, I know the brewers name is listed somewhat clearly on the back of the bottle, but I do feel ever so slightly cheated all the same. It’s particularly annoying given the same brewer launched a more transparent range of “craft beers” with the Greene King label at the forefront not so long ago. They even went so far as to refer proudly to their new project as a “brewery within a brewery”.
Why, then, did they feel the need to launch a second “experiment” hidden under a different name. It just seems a bit “try hard” to me; a desperate attempt from an enterprise with image problems to reach new markets. Not cool.
Interestingly though, a similar story is unfolding in the states, where the dominant players Anheuser-Busch InBev and MillerCoors are going one step further by actively trying to conceal their name from the label of imposter craft beers passed off as authentic artisan products. It’s amazing they can get away with it, quite frankly.
In light of the above, then, Greene Kings Metropolitan Brewing brand seems practically ethical when compared to the activities of much bigger giant corporations in the US. But still, I just wish they wouldn’t; why not just work on the quality and perception of their main brand!?
Enough chatter, though, on to the beer!
Under Currant Pale Ale Reviewed
Pouring a light amber color with a thin white head, the aroma of Under Current Pale is actually fairly pleasant. The predominant scent is dark fruit – possibly black current – which I’m guessing gives the beer its name. Other more delicate scents of herb, grass, and pine also tickled the nose after the initial dominant fruit – all in all quite enjoyable.
After enjoying the aroma, I proceeded to sip the beer, but, unfortunately, the experience here is less than stellar (excuse the pun).
While the dark fruit and blackcurrant elements did carry through from the aroma, the reality on taste was much closer to Ribena squash (a kids blackcurrant fruit drink in the UK) than it was to fresh fruit of any kind.
The initial Ribena fruit taste quickly develops into a cloyingly sweet palate, with a medium-thick mouthfeel and high carbonation. Even worse, as the beer moves to the back of the throat, and the bitterness emerges, a metallic flavor begins to develop, which ends in an aftertaste similar to copper coins – nice!
My description might seem quite harsh – and perhaps I went into the tasting a bit on the cynical side. It’s not the worse thing I’ve ever tasted, but there’s just something quite not right about this beer.
Further reading of the label only fuelled by suspicions of sinister activity as I noticed that the rather odd ingredients list cites sugar syrup as a core ingredient. Why!? why would you add sugar syrup? If anything, it certainly explains the cloying sweet, syrup like texture of this rather sickly brew. Either way, it doesn’t seem very honest to me – one to miss.
Pleasant enough aroma
Cheap blackcurrant juice flavor and unpleasant metallic flavors.
Strong cheese might help soften this brew.
Time of year
I’m not sure I can recommend this at any time of year, to be honest.
TABrews rating – 2/5