As my experiments at making unhopped ale have rather surprisingly met with approval I thought it was time to taste it again myself.
This was the next surprise. It'd gone sour. Instead of the unpleasant mawkishly sweet taste I've come to expect from unhopped ales it's definitely got a touch of the lambic about it. Is this what ales tasted like? Did sourness make up for the lack of hop bitterness?
I'm sure that back in the day ales wouldn't have been stored in bottles for months until they went sour, but would they need to have been? Without access to modern cleaning and sterilisation chemicals and almost certainly without pure yeast cultures I'm sure ales would have soured very rapidly, or even started out sour.
There may have to be a re-think before I make the next one.