Judgment day for these side-by-side batches.
Both had a long-ish single stage fermentation, racked into a keg (no finings), very lightly carbed, and poured through a handpump at about 56-57°F.
As noted at the end of the brew day post, the Gleneagles Maris Otter wort was “definitely but not drastically darker” than the Warminster Maris Otter wort – in the glass it was even less drastic. I tried to backlight the pint glasses in the above shot, and they ended up being pretty close in color: kind of a quibbly distinction between deep gold and pale bronze, with the same thin white rafts of foam.
The body and mouthfeel on both is essentially the same as well – light, with a bit of diacetyl slickness, and very low CO2. So that’s a tie, but let’s drill down, as they say in the board meetings where there is no beer:
Nose: Malty (biscuit, toast, bread) and a light fruit ester. A bit of diacetyl.
Flavor: Clean malt with more of that grainy, biscuit, toasty-bread-crumb character. The fruity quality is subtler and less citric than in the Warminster batch – there’s a bit of pear or apple, but no apricot. The herbal component of the Fuggles actually comes through more here, but overall the hops are played down. Finish is clean and lightly bitter.
Nose: Pronouncedly fruitier – yeast dough, plus a distinct Bosc pear/apricot ester and maybe even some hop.
Flavor: Bready and fruity with a more dominant yeast character: more of that pear/apricot, and a comparatively bigger hop flavor with herbal Fuggle-y pungence (I know, it was a single addition at the start of the boil, but I’ve found that in a low-gravity, single-malt wort there can be some FWH-style carrythrough). The balance in the finish skews more to the hop-bitter.
In conclusion: a horse apiece, apples and oranges (pears and apricots?), I can see a time and place for both.
For this specific recipe, with this specific hop/yeast combo, I preferred the Gleneagles iteration – it worked better as a standalone beer. I think this malt would do a great job of bringing a lot of depth into simple grists for Northern English browns or lower-shilling Scottish ales, and possibly low-gravity bitters with emphasis on early hop additions.
The Warminster iteration left me wanting more hop character than the framework of the recipe could deliver, but with a different yeast strain, or in a hoppier style like a bitter or UK pale, I think Warminster may have an edge.