By Adela Ryle
As the cold truly begins to bite, punters across the ale trail are flocking to sample the winter guest ales that are in full flow. But if the weather is turning you off the pub scene, there’s good news; one of the most popular guest ales around, Fuller’s lush IPA Bengal Lancer, is now available in bottles.
At only 5%, on draught this light citrus beer is slightly shy of the traditional IPA mark. However, the bottle-conditioned version ups the stakes a little, at a warming 5.3%. Clear copper in the glass, Bengal Lancer presents a light malty aroma with a distinct note of green tea. Medium carbonation gives it a smooth texture, which provides light relief after some of the livelier IPAs, such as Oakham Green Devil or Tryst Raj IPA, that are currently on the market.
While the ale has come under some criticism among hop-fanatics for a lack of boldness in that department, the beer does in fact score strongly. A combination of Fuggle, Golding and Target hops gives it a leafy tropical flavour, laced with lemon and even a hint of pineapple. While the influence of American craft beers has changed expectations among some drinkers in terms of hop character, for those used to bests and bitters Bengal lancer makes for an excellent balance; peppery warmth and a dry finish complement the sweetness of the malt, creating a satisfying winter bitter.
Though not a session beer, there’s no denying it is eminently drinkable. As the number of IPAs available in the UK increases, Fuller’s yet again provides a great example of what a good ale should do.