The range of canned English ale really is increasing, or at least my access to it is. My local(est) Carry Out offered a smart 4 cans for €6.99, which I couldn't resist. Rather than try four wholly new beers though, I only tried two new ones, reserving the remaining slots for Old Speckled Hen and personal favourite London Pride.
First up, London Pride. I've not got much more to say about this beer, as I've already hyped it up the maximum amount, but I suppose I'll go through the motions. Toffee malt hits hard on this ale, and it's extremely quaffable and tasty. However, the body really pales in comparison to the bottled version.
Next of the batch to go down the hatch was Old Speckled Hen. Only around a week previous I'd had the bottled version again, and although it was enjoyable for about 300 mls, it became quite watery and boring in the finish. On the nose with the canned version I was surprised to find a touch of yeast amidst the usual malt and fruit balance. The body on this was extremely light, almost to the point of being watery, and yet it surprised me with a decently complex palette. Toffee malt is to the fore, with red and dark juicy fruits following up. It's not as bitter as the Pride, and it has better head retention.
Fuller's ESB was one of the new beers I opted for. Looking at my notes, I see the first word I wrote at the time was 'delicious'. It's certainly hoppier than the others but I still found a very strong biscuit malt backbone, with elements of, you guessed it, toffee. For the sake of variety, I might have said caramel, but really it was deeper than that. Hops make themselves known by lending a slight oily and astringent character to the beer, while the oily fruitiness lingers long after the finish. As time goes on, caramel does develop in the malty section of the drink, as well as very surprising hint of booze for a beer of 5.9%.
The last of the bunch was also new to me - Marston's Pedigree. To be frank, it's watery, it's got a slightly cider-like green apple element, it's got a very mild (or weak) malt character, and a very mild bitterness. Unremarkable, so don't bother.
So far, of all the English ales I've tried from the can, Fuller's ESB is by far the best. The biggest problem I have with the can is the apparent weakness to the body that I've noticed in most of the beers, but there's no real lack of fullness to the ESB. I look forward to trying the bottled version - it may replace London Pride as my go-to English ale.