AKA: Two Thousand Year Ale
Origin: Market Weston, Suffolk, England
Date: 7 September 2000
Another review from the archive written for the pioneering Oxford Bottled Beer Database (OBBD). I’ve left it uncorrected — so please read it in that historical spirit. Old Chimneys is now something of a veteran artisanal brewer, established in 1995 behind brewer Alan Thomson’s home. It moved to its current site on a nearby farm in 2001. This particular beer appears to have been very much a one-off.
My flatmate returned with this unusual microbrewed Millennium ale from – of all places – a Chinese restaurant. When we drank it in July it was some months past its stated best before date of 1 January 2000 but, unsurprisingly for a bottle-conditioned beer of this strength, it was clearly still in fine condition.
The millennial gimmick in this case involves looking back to the last millennium, thus the label in cod Anglo-Saxon: even the brewery name is given as ‘Eald Flews Breowany’. Additionally, the beer pays tribute to early brewers by including the herb known as alecost [Tanacetum balsamita], once a common flavouring and preservative ingredient in brewing.
The beer is dark brown with little head and a malty alcoholic nose; there is a tarry, malty, Marmitey palate offset by alcohol and developing bitterness, some Brettanomyces-like ‘horse-blanket’ and vegetal hints, and a long bittersweet fruit finish with some aromatic flowery notes.
Though the brewer has chickened out of going completely retro and leaving out hops entirely, the full, slightly cloying flavour of dark malts expresses itself forthrightly and it’s easy to imagine this is something like pre-hop beers might have been. Whether it’s pleasant or not I can’t quite decide.