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Duchy Originals Organic English Ale

Duchy Originals Organic English Ale

Wychwood Brewery Company, Ltd.

5% ABV, 20.9UK fl oz. (596.67 ml), $3.99/bottle

Bodine Value: 7.47

Total consumption time: approx. 1 hour

You discover some interesting things wandering the aisles of Russian-owned, Korean-managed, various-South-American-staffed markets in Brooklyn. Golden Farm, on Church Ave. at East 4th St. happens to have far more interesting imported beers than six-packs of the standard brews you’d expect to find. If you’re in the market for a somewhat obscure eastern european beer, try one of these places before lighting out across town to a distributor.

In this particular instance I stumbled across a shelf near the bread aisle containing most of the Samuel Smith product line and something I’d never seen before: Duchy Originals Organic English Ale. Being an imbiber who is always interested in unexpected bodega finds, I immediately grabbed a bottle.

The folks over at Beer Advocate have submitted 92 reviews for this particular ESB, so I shall quickly sum up my thoughts. When decanted carefully into a pint glass (beware of overage… it comes out to about a pint plus a healthy sip) you’re presented with minimal head and a pleasing coppery-brown hue. The nose is malty, with a trace of roastedness that reads slightly chocolatey. It’s tasty, but stays fairly close to the standard ideal ESB and thus isn’t terribly remarkable beyond noting that it’s pleasant. The flavor is mild, and I was glad the bodega hadn’t chilled the bottle as doing so would probably have rendered it nearly flavorless.

The label copy reads:

“Made to a traditional and exclusive recipe using Barley from selected organic farms including the Home Farm at Highgrove” and “profits donated to the Prince of Wales’s Charitable Foundation”.

It’s clear they’re going for the crunchy hippie angle here, royal patronage notwithstanding.
Duchy Originals is Prince Charles’ organic food label which launched in 1992 and the Prince’s website claims that one million British pounds are steered into various charities due to Duchy Originals profits every year. It’s possible that the bottle I purchased was over a year old as the Prince apparently changed the name of his charity to The Prince’s Charities Foundation in 2006. Age didn’t seem to have a negative effect on the beer.

The verdict? Worth trying, but don’t expect much in the way of a new experience here.