I tried two drinks on one day that could not be more different. One was a champagne, the other a beer. One is, possibly, the most famous brand ever, the other few will have heard about outside of a fifty mile radius of where I live. One is named after the man who taught the world about secondary fermentation, the other named after a small town on the east coast of Scotland and one is made by the largest champagne house, owned by a fashion label and the other in an industrial unit by a man called Bob.
I've mentioned The St Andrews Brewing Company, owned by Yorkshireman Bob Phaff, before and he has just released a one off beer for a food festival in the town of Crail. I was expecting a decent offering from Bob - that is what beer companies do when they produce a special edition beer - but not one that stood out from the range.
Then there was Dom Perignon, the prestige cuvee that owners LVMH appears to be distancing away from parent company Moet & Chandon and establishing it as a stand alone brand. Usually the wines are examples of exquisite poise, precision and balance, and only improve with time. It was the champagne I started with.
It had bright minerally aromas with gentle lemon zest and a tiny bit of diluted lemon juice. Chalk comes through as well, but it is not 'classic' Dom Perignon. With a bit of time in the glass it opens up, revealing more citrus pith and citrus flesh aromas. The palate is soft, and quite flabby. It has some sweeter lemon flavours, a bit of flint and then some pear coming off and then some nasty bitter note on the finish. It is a pretty poor Dom Perignon. 75pts
St Andrews Brewing Company Crail Ale
Sweet caramel and some herbal notes coming off. A little malty element coming off and some rather nice burnt cream aroma. The palate is delicious - soft and creamy in texture, a lovely bright maltiness, hints of Highland Toffee with a gentle floral bitterness. A stonking bottle of beer. 91pts
The beer was a tremendous effort, and is my favourite beer created by this new brewer, and the Champagne was a tremendous flop, showing nothing that I want from a bottle of Dom Perignon. I realised one more thing that was different between these two drinks. One cost fifty times as much as the other, but the cheaper bottle was fifty times more desirable.