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Beer Review: Cains, Cains Finest Bitter

Feb 3, 2012

Ding Points: 71.50

Pour: 80.00, Nose: 70.00, Palate: 70.00, Mouth: 70.00, Global: 70.00

Tasting Notes:

Having had this from the can several months ago, I wanted to refrain from reviewing it until I could at least get the kegged version (given that I was pretty sure that I’m never likely to see the cask presentation here in the US). Patience, and up this pops at Hop City, Atlanta, GA for a very pleasing $3.99 for the 32 oz growler. Sensible price, sensible volume and sensible ABV; quite the novelty combination here in the USA.

Pour is a little on the uncarbonated side but it does give a very pretty, graduated amber body that runs the gamut from a tremendous golden in the narrow part of the glass, through to a really rich looking chocolate/chestnut color in the main body. White head, but somewhat limited lace and retention.

Cains, Finest Bitter

Cains, Finest Bitter

Nose offers a light biscuit malt, but the smell shy’s away from any malt sweetness.

The flavors surrounding this beer definitely showcase the hop profile rather than the malt profile. Any American reading that, and then coming to this beer, would probably think I was nuts, since, of course, this is simply not a hoppy beer per se, but in terms of an English Bitter of this style, I think one would say that the malt profile is a little restrained. In that sense this is a little bit of an atypical bitter. The biscuit malts do not shine for me, and it doesn’t really ever deliver than intensely moreish, buttered toast ending – if anything, it’s a touch harsh on the back end. Some leafy bitterness lingers in the aftertaste and there is some metal as well.

In England, with a million and one other beers to choose from, I’m not picking this up again. Here in the US on the other hand, I’m probably going to it as a staple every time that I see it on tap. Beggars can’t be choosers.

Cains, Finest Bitter

Cains, Finest Bitter

I recall hearing about Cains years and years ago but very little of late, so it was a bit of a surprise to see them in the US. Perhaps it’s a situation of an importer or exporter looking to find ‘any old beer’ to fill a YAWNING gap in the market. It’s a shame, because there are 100’s, possibly 1000’s of others I would rather see, and the can craze is probably partly driving this to some extent as well. Perhaps an example of the container driving the popularity rather than the contents – (see #9). Having said that, this beer was (under the name of Cains Traditional Bitter), the 1991 Gold Medal CAMRA winner in the Bitter Class.  I think that’s where I knew it from.

Other: 4.0% and rumored to be discontinued in the USA after just a few short months.


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