Samuel Smith's Nut Brown Ale
No frills, no gimmicks, just a steady familiar brew this time around. It is probably worth noting that this is my second Pick involving the Samuel Smith Old Brewery, Tadcaster. (See January 2008 for the previous entry.)
For me, Sammy S's Nut Brown is a classic among classics. This is the stuff of which (English) legends are made. It is unassuming, the opposite of brash, reliable, trustworthy, good for the long haul, friendly, cheerful, and agreeable with an array of foods.
Essentially, this beer is akin to how the English would like to think of themselves as a people.
It definitely has that peculiar Yorkshire-water minerality -- which, as Garrett Oliver (and others) will tell you, is highly prized by the local beer aficionados. After all, the town of Tadcaster (whence it cometh) sits atop a limestone-rich water table. It's a bit weird, but I can see why it's prized. It lends a certain mineral-water refreshingness to the brew, to be sure, sort of a beer version of San Pellegrino.
In the glass, it bears a lovely copper-brown color with the trademark elusively-thin English head. The nose is slight, but the careful taster will be patient with it and be rewarded with rich caramel, roasted malt, hay, and subdued-yet-holding-their-own hops. On the tongue, the mineral quality shows up full force, along with a nice ale-style fruitiness (not too strong) and pleasant malt roundness. The palate is dry, crisp, and the paragon of refreshing. One could, even at 5% ABV, drink it all night.
With food, the Nut Brown is fairly catholic and generous: anything from a pork loin to roast beef to grilled chicken to cheddar cheese to mild curry to (what I had) trout dip on toasts.
It's also excellent all by itself.