Scarecrow Golden Pale Ale
There was a time I drank English beer exclusively, owing more to my circumstances and location than preference, maybe, but I enjoyed almost all of it nonetheless. Lately, the beer options have been nearly limitless, and I’ve had to remind myself to get back to something from Blighty every once in a while. Unfortunately, most of the attempts have been disappointing. I’m not saying there isn’t any decent English beer out there. There certainly is. I’ve just been having trouble searching out a new British beer away from the tried and true. I had high hopes for Wychwood’s Scarecrow, an organic pale ale from Oxfordshire, but it’s not quite a winner either.
It pours decently enough. The head is rather skimpy, but the ale is a nice clear golden color, just as it should be. The aroma is fairly faint, but it’s on the earthy side. Not quite to a farmhouse ale quality, but it is a bit reminiscent of an English summer meadow -- flowery and grassy. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of that.
The problem lies with the flavor, which is unlucky since that’s the main reason we choose a beer, usually. Not that it is undrinkable swill, by any means, it’s just lacking. The overpowering note is a bitter citrus, maybe lemon peel, which nothing balances or soothes. The hops dominate this beer, but don’t get excited hopheads because it’s not that sort of beer, either. There is a faint attempt by some biscuity malt to come to the rescue, but it gets frightened and runs off without much effect. It stays as a one note, bitter and citrusy, wonder throughout.
This beer was clearly designed with summer in mind. And, I suppose, if you’re going to drink it, that’s the time. It is medium bodied at best and would go with a salad in a pinch, but I’d be leery of trying to pair it with food. Maybe it would work with some grilled vegetables or some sharp cheese. The alcohol is on the low side at 4.7%, but this really isn’t a beer you’d want more than one of at a time anyway. I think it really wants to be refreshing, but I wasn’t refreshed by it at all. You would only willingly reach for this after mowing the lawn in the hot sun if you were senseless with heat stroke. Or it was the only beer you had on hand, in which case, fine, go ahead. There may well be a time and place for this beer, I just have no idea when or where. The taste doesn’t appeal to me, and much better options for every situation abound.
Scarecrow is marketed as USDA certified organic. If that’s important to you, there aren’t many organic beers out there right now that are worth drinking at all. This ale is better than many of those. Samuel Smith’s being a major exception, but almost any beer by that fine brewery is exceptional. Scarecrow is nowhere near that standard. Give it a go if you’re looking for something different. I’d suggest just one bottle. It’s going to take a special set of taste buds to warm to this beer.