Beer of the Week is sponsored by the Lion & Rose. Each week, we introduce you to a wonderful brew that’s a little bit different and well worth seeking out.
Wells Banana Bread Beer
What else could you say about a beer that promises the flavor of banana bread?
Naturally, the first thing you’ll do is read the label to clarify matters, but that won’t help much entirely. Sure, it tells you the beer is made in Bedford, England, by Wells and Young. And it does remind us that beer has long been known as liquid bread, so that explains the bread part of it. And it is made with bananas, free-trade bananas actually.
But then it goes on to say that it’s made with something called banoffee, a word that sent me to the dictionary. It’s “a filling for a pie, consisting of toffee and banana,” according to thefreedictionary.com, and the word is a combination of “banana” and “toffee.” Makes sense, but what doesn’t is the overriding question of whether banana has a place in beer.
The only way to answer that is to pop the top and take in a good strong breath. Sure enough, bananas, ripe and artificial, seem to emerge from the bottle along with a sweet sense mixed with malt, giving the feeling of, you guessed it, banana bread.
Pour the beauty into a glass and notice the coppery color tumble into it. A medium head forms and quickly dissipates into a nice lace on the rim of the brew.
Take a sip and you’ll notice at least two things at once. One is that, yes, it tastes like banana bread, although perhaps the flavor is not quite as forceful as the aroma. The other is that it is not as sweet as it smells; the toffee is kept in check.
Then the rest of the beer’s flavors come into the picture. There’s a pleasant warm spice feeling, suggestive of mace or allspice, and the finish is quite dry, clean and hoppy. There isn’t a great deal of carbonation, so it’s soft in the mouth, yet a good sip leaves your taste buds tingling and anticipating more. It’s not exactly complex; in fact, it is little more than what the label says it is: banana beer bread.
If you’re still not convinced, perhaps you’ll want to share this brew over a dessert at the Lion and Rose. The one that springs naturally to mind is the Sticky Toffee Pudding, which is not made with banoffee, but has the requisite, delicious sweetness to match it. The King’s Bread Pudding or the Pear William Cake with its Bavarian pear mousse would also work beautifully.
By the way, my pet cockatoo, who eats a fingerling banana every day, also gave his approval to a drop that he had.