The only time Ronseal would have encountered beer before this would have been when pints get spilled onto pub tables, but there's no need to spill anything with this interesting collaboration.
Northern Monk chose fellow Northerners Ronseal for their 'no-nonsense' collaboration because the stain company shares similar values to them: caring about the result, doing the job properly and using the best tools available.
The beer has been colour-matched with Ronseal's range of Fence Life stain colours too which is where the Medium Oak name comes from, a nice touch that takes Ronseal's 'does exactly what it says on the tin' mantra to a logical finish.
Medium Oak Best Bitter is brewed with Ernest and Bullion hops, which Northern Monk have recently rediscovered through their BritishCulture Archive Patrons Project. It creates a beer that is smooth, with bramble sweetness and a light breadiness that is reminiscent of pubs with brass on the walls and low, timber-beamed ceilings.
Along with Medium Oak Best Bitter there is also Harvest Gold, a saison that comes in at 5.8 percent and while being much lighter, is still a no-nonsense brew.
Slightly stale ale smell which is, bizarrely, quite alluring. You can tell just by the aroma how smooth it is going to be, with a malty undertone that marks it out as a bitter right away.
The pour is thin, with that traditional deep amber colour - or medium oak colour if we're being precise - that is typical of the style, with a caramel coloured fluffy head. It has a malty and smooth flavour initially which goes down way too easily, slightly metallic towards the end but with some bramble sweetness, slightly spiced and fruity to balance well with the malt flavours.
It's a little one-dimensional, which isn't normally a problem for a bitter but I think being such a strange collaboration I was expecting something a little more adventurous than a simple bitter.
The aftertaste is a little bitter but not too much, relying on a strong malt base to negate any real bitter hit in flavour of a smooth, crisp finish that unfortunately is blighted a little by a metallic overtone that nudges the subtler flavours out of the way.
Trying to write this review without saying it 'does exactly what it says on the tin' is proving more difficult the longer I write, but the can makes it even harder.
Designed to mimic Ronseal's tins of stain, but instead of a fence/decking with the colour stain, it is a beer. I actually think the beer on the label is significantly lighter than the actual beer, making it not what it says on the tin in this instance.
The side of the label bears a number of selling points that, in a Ronseal tin, would brag about the weatherability, durability and high-quality finish of the stain; but in this case it points out the quality of the ingredients and the providence of the beer. A fine finish, exactly what was expected from such an unexpected collaboration.
You can't unfortunately as these are limited edition beers, so you will have to experience it through the lens of this here review until they make some more.