Manna from Heaven
We might as well get one thing straight. Boddington’s is one of my very favorite beers. You almost can’t go wrong with it. It’s good, full stop. Anytime with anything, as far as I can tell. If you’re just having one or… more than one. This is one of those beers that will work anytime, for practically anybody. Some snobs might scoff, but this isn’t meant to be the Mouton Rothschild of beers. It’s the faithful standby to have again and again.
Boddington’s is a pale ale style bitter. It has a thick creamy head. Cream being the operative word whenever discussing this beer. It is always apparent. It’s a light golden color. It tumbles down the glass like a well poured Guiness. Not overly heavy. It has an alcohol content around 4.8%. In England Boddington’s is hand pulled, which mixes a little air in as it gently swirls into the glass. Here in America we can only get an approximation of that experience. Even that approximation is delicious.
The first time it caresses your mouth, and it does just that, the first thought is… Well, it’s “Man, is that good!” But right after that it’s, “I hope they have more of this stuff back there”, actually. But among the very first thoughts that register is the creaminess. It has a fantastic mouth feel. There’s nothing harsh about it. It’s extremely smooth. Just a sweet nectar from the gods. It has a very slight citrus taste, with just a hint of flowers. If you concentrate very hard on it, you might be able to detect a spot of tea even. Maybe sweetened with a touch of honey. But that’s thinking too much. This isn’t a beer to overanalyze and pore over. It’s one to be poured and enjoyed.
Originally made in Manchester at Strangeways Brewery, I’ve since learned it’s now brewed in south Wales. Actually, that seems fitting. It tastes more like soft, pastoral Wales than gritty Manchester. It is also a bit of a blessing for us in the rest of the world, because it’s much more readily available now. You can find it at many groceries in the four pack nitrogen cans, and most bars offering a decent number of beers will have it. If you’re lucky, you can even find one that has it on tap. This still essentially tastes more like the can version than the proper hand-pulled, but what can you do?
Like all ales, this one is best enjoyed cool. Not on the verge of freezing, which is the way most American beers are made palatable. Smooth and delicious. Lightly carbonated even out of the can. You should have it about cellar temperature--around 50 degrees. But don’t worry too much about that.
I consider this one of those great all around beers. Perfect for just sitting at the bar with friends. If you’re eating, a Boddy will probably go with it, though it might be best with less sophisticated fare. Ideal with most types of bar food, wings particularly. Cheeseburgers. It’s perfectly suited to pleasantly wash down all the heat or grease you can tuck in. Coupled with a spicy curry, and you might have the perfect meal.
If you’re used to just pounding down American lagers, this is a good ale to try. It’s not all that adventurous. It doesn’t try to be too much. It’s not the strongest. Not the hippest. Not the most flavorful. It’s not the most anything. But, for me, that’s what makes it one of the best. It’s very easy to enjoy. A little sip of heaven, originally concocted in one of the unlikeliest places on Earth.