This is the last of the beers chosen for us by David Bishop (@[email protected]) and it’s another from Yorkshire, this time Driffield, out east near the North Sea coast.

It’s not really a part of the world we know at all, dimly remembered childhood holidays in Scarborough and Whitby aside, but if you fancy a treat, spend a few minutes looking at the map: Nafferton, Wetwang, Fridaythorpe, Thwing! It’s a never-ending pleasure.

We’ve had a few beers from Wold Top and always been impressed, and marmalade porter is a wonderfully mouthwatering phrase. Can the beer live up to it? David says:

A wild card choice. I had a bottle of this a while back and based on the description of the beer I must have enjoyed it? Right?

We got our 500ml bottle from Beer Ritz at GBP3.36. Its ABV is 5% and some will be interested to know that it is also gluten free.

As part of his list of suggestions David also included Samuel Smith Taddy Porter, our favourite UK version of the style, which we decided to use as a benchmark for judging Wold Top Marmalade, with a view to working out retrospectively how might have fared in our big porter taste of back in 2014.

Marmalade Porter in the glass.In the glass it’s one of those beers that looks almost black and until you let a light through it when it reveals itself as a rich, clear red-brown. It didn’t seem to smell of much apart from a whiff of metal. The taste was quite overwhelming, however — like the dying embers of a bonfire. As we got used to the smoke a bit of butter came through, probably a bit more than some would enjoy, but tolerable to us. We didn’t really pick up any hint of marmalade or orange flavour, though the copy on the label and its evocative colouring almost fooled our senses.

It’s an earthy beer, not smooth or luxurious, the bitterness badly wanting some dried fruit character to balance it out. It feels as if it was hacked from raw wood with an axe rather than being the result of delicate craftsmanship. It’s like drinking a garden shed. This is not necessarily a bad thing (rustic would be the positive spin) but it’s not quite what we look for in a porter. Our gut instinct — just a guess — is that the problem is the result of a heavy hand with the dark crystal and black malts.

Let’s bring in Sam Smith here: Taddy Porter is wine-like, almost creamy, defined by its sugars, with every hard edge rounded away. In every way, it’s a better beer, as far as we’re concerned. At GBP3.18 for 550ml from Beer Ritz it’s also a (slightly) better value option.

In the end, though the words above might not quite convey it, we did enjoy the Wold Top beer and would certainly drink it again, but only passively, if it drifted in front of us. Would it have made the final in our porter taste off? Probably not. But it certainly confirms our impression of Wold Top as an interesting brewery whose beers are worth exploring further.

3 Comments

  1. Funnily enough, a bottle of this did drift in front of me recently as someone left a bottle of it at my house and I drank it. I would never have bought it as I don’t really like marmalade. However it contains no marmalade and doesn’t taste of marmalade at all. I have no idea why they call it that. I found it a bit thin and insubstantial.

  2. I think that will inspire me to buy a bottle of Taddy Porter next time I’m in the Bottle Stop in Bramhall. Only £2.20 a bottle there, as well ????

  3. I holidayed few miles from wold brewery this year so drank fair bit of their stuff. Brewery run by friends of friends, definitely good people. Rustic seems well chosen word. I’ll admit despite access to various wold beers at four for six quid supermarket prices still not beers I keep coming back to. Memories tell me I could pick up hint of marmalade in last bottle I had, got me thinking, might need another to refresh memory.

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