Down the Fox on this nice Summery July evening and I’m trying out the Newman’s Strawberry Steam and Wells’ Waggledance. Complimenting these Real Ales will be one of my favourite Cigars, the Bolivar Coronas Extras.
First up, the Strawberry Steam looks seductive with it’s amber coloured haze. On the palette however, the flavours are uneven and harsh. There’s a lot of hops here, in fact, there’s too much. I can get the sweetness, probably the flavours that gave Strawberry Steam it’s name, but there’s just too much onslaught of all the other stronger flavours. My drinking buddy Hefin, who never has a bad word about anything, was threatening to throw his half drunk Strawberry Steam in the hedge.
There’s too much acidity on the end section of the palette. Everything is in your face. With a name like ’Strawberry Steam’, I was expecting something a lot less mellow, but all it wants to do is kick you in the nads.
Scoring Strawberry Steam, I'm going to give this a below average 5.5/10. Not enjoyable enough for me to want another drink if there’s anything better. Maybe you’ll like these stronger, harsher flavours, but they’re not for me.
Second up, and hopefully better, is Wells’ Waggledance. With a dollop of Fair Trade South American honey, thrown into the mix, from experience, I was expecting a mellow ale, and that’s what I got.
Well, replace mellow with non-existent. This beer has a better head, and lacing than the Strawberry Steam, but while the Strawberry Steam had too many teeth, this has too little. I couldn’t detect any worthwhile flavours, everything was flat and lifeless. Even though I didn’t like Strawberry Steam due to it’s unbalanced nature, I disliked Waggledance more for not having any kind of notable plus points.
Possibly the best time to drink a pint of Waggledance is at a sweltering mid summer’s day, however, I’d probably still go for something else. I’m someone who enjoys a little bit of a challenge with my Real Ale’s, however, Waggledance did not deliver anything worthwhile to the table.
For Waggledance, I'm going to score this Ale a disappointing 5.25/10. I might be rating it too low, there’s certainly going to be fans of this beer like Strawberry Steam, but for most people I fear both will pass most people by.
So, if I had to choose between the two as a winner, what would I go for? Well, for all it’s flaws, I would go for Newman’s Strawberry Steam. Possibly this was a bad batch of the Steam, maybe this is a new barrel, or even one almost finished and I’m drinking the ‘bad stuff’ from it, so it may get better. With the Waggledance, it feels like that’s all it can go.
So if you’re down your local, and you have a choice between Waggledance and Strawberry Steam, and there’s a third beer on the table you can go for, you might be better off going for the third option.