Our future monarch’s Duchy Originals brand has done very well out of the organic food boom – in fact you have to (perhaps grudgingly) admit that the Prince showed a bit of entrepreneurial vision on this one, since his Highgrove Farm oatcakes etc. anticipated mass take-up of organics by a good few years.

Their Cumberland Sausages are probably the best sausages you can buy in a supermarket, but generally the Duchy brand tends to be comfortably OK – tasty enough, not big on flavour, a bit overpriced for what it is, but never actually bad. However, the new ale from Duchy Originals bucks this trend – it’s really not very nice at all, judging by the taste I had at the British Beer Festival on Friday.

The marketing of real ale is a bit of a bugbear of mine – I think it should be doing better than it is given the huge consumer interest in authenticity, food provenance, organics etc. It needs a breakout product though and the Duchy ale is no doubt hoping to leverage its brand and become this. The problem is that it seems to have been brewed for people who don’t like bitter – it’s very crisp, sweet and fruity indeed.

Of course that isn’t necessarily a problem at all – some of my favourite bottled ales, including several delicious Badger ones, are like this. But they lure you with their sweetness then round the taste off with more bitter notes, creating a complex, more-ish and well rounded experience (basically they are nummy). The Duchy brew has no real aftertaste at all – no bitterness, nothing, and so the promise of the initial taste (lovely fruitiness) becomes a wan sickliness by the third mouthful. It won’t scare anyone off who is wary of ale’s richness or hoppiness, but its sweetness is glib and cloying (it’s the beer equivalent of “Don’t Falter” by Mint Royale, arf arf).