In resplendent blue glass Adnams Spindrift speaks in the hushed tones of castaway shells and seaside pebbles, whispering “Drink me, drink me”.
What makes this beer so interesting is that every time it’s washed up in my shopping basket it’s a little bit different, never exactly the same. Citrus fruits from far away lands bounds out of one bottle; sea salt and black pepper dominate another; one is funky, overripe fruit laced with pithy, orange rind bitterness
Could the elegant blue bottle be responsible for these variations? Or is the spirit of spindrift captured metaphorically and literally – perhaps it really is the beerification of the sea whipping up all sorts of interesting flavours and chucking them over here, over there, over everywhere on the back of a force 8 gale?
Spindrift is less volatile, more elegant. Today’s bottle ebbs and flows between fruit, coast and flora: drinking it is to be washed up on a salty beach with a paraffin lamp, where over-ripe lychees fall from trees and seaweed and pepper and lemon juice make up the desert island meal. It’s laced with citrus and wheat influence, herbs and even a dash of honey perhaps. But crucially, the conbination of flavours don’t quite feel vibrant: it’s sun kissed, or perhaps in this case wind burnt.
If Spindrift is the daily bread of lazy coastal days I’d take it with outstretched arms, but it is for sure a beer to be drunk fresh, on a warm day; it’s a beer whose effervescence needs to be preserved in order to successfully quench thirst and conjure a far away sea breeze.
Read the rest of this entry » Tags: adnams, sea
From Pendle Hill you’ve more chance of seeing Ian Holloway celebrating at Bloomfield Road than coming across any broomsticks or clandestine hurlyburly. And that’s on a cloudy day.
The sandstone plateau does have a slightly spooky aura about it though. Standing proud from the undulating hillside you can imagine a cackling coven of witches peering over the landscape and plotting the demise of their rivals. Especially if you visit during thunder and lightning…
Moorhouse’s Pendle Witches Brew is inherently charming. Perhaps it’s the verve for local legend – not only are the witches still much talked about but the brewery itself has had a somewhat rollercoaster existence – that makes this beer so appealing at the bar and in the local supermarket.
For something conjured up in the cauldrons of witches, Pendle Witches Brew is surprisingly fresh. Citrus fruits and uncooked dough illuminate the nose, and reappear in the washing-up liquid backbone.
Too cold from the fridge initially, it warms and fruity flavours gently emerge – lemon, oranges and caramel; Fuggles hops and Crystal malt (we assume) make it entirely English. It’s pleasantly bitter-sweet, finishing dry in the mouth with a slightly medicinal bitterness, more alkaline than acidic.
I can’t think of a better beer to refresh the body after an excursion atop Pendle Hill. In the comfort of a local pub that caters for weary legs, there’s nothing more appropriate or becoming of the moment. You can call it a type of occasion terroir.
Which sounds like the perfect end to a Sunday summit with friends. You might even see Blackpool Tower on a good day.Tags: Golden Ale, lancashire, moorhouses, pendle hill, pendle witches brew
Badger Golden Glory is one of the beers that got me into this beer blogging malarkey. Back way when, bored of the canned lagers largely devoid of taste and with a little more disposable income than my university days, me and then house mate Alan were keen to drink something with a bit more taste. We sampled everything the supermarkets had to offer, from local ales to the array of continental lagers.
Somewhere along the way Golden Glory (and Badgers other similar beer Golden Champion) soon became a favourite. It was sweeter with a more palatable taste than most of the beers and was always on form, which made it an easy purchase decision. I’d often pick up a handful of new beers to try and then a risk-free Badger and maybe a St Peters.
Coming back to it now feels a bit full circle. And the good thing is that Golden Glory is still great.
Peaches and melon dominant the nose, you could easily call cherry blossom, kiwis and candy too without fear of sounding pretentious. There’s a bit of an alcohol sting to the first sip, a touch of spice and a bitter finish. Above all this beer is sweet,all floral and fruit overlaid rather than intertwined with a very subtle caramel flavour and a bitter finish.
This is easy to drink from glass or bottle, there’s a zingy kick to it which gives it that little bit more oomph (or umpf?!) over some of it’s competitors on the supermarket shelves. If you like your beer to have aroma and punch then as English ales go you can’t do much worse than this fruity number. Serve slightly chilled for a bit more kick and refreshment on a hot day (you might be waiting a while though!)Tags: Badger, Floral, Golden Ale, golden glory, Hall and Woodhouse, melon, peach
Some beers have a pedestal. Sometimes it’s deserved because they are truly great beers, technically and taste-wise. Some are headliners, built by a cheeky PR campaign or an elaborate story. And some are deserved winners of awards and a place within beery folklore.
Summer Lightning by Hopback falls in the latter category. Back when I was enjoying my third year on this planet and coming to terms with the fact I would soon have a baby brother stealing all of the attention in the Fletcher household, John Gilbert of the newly formed Hopback Brewery was quietly supplying his local beer festival with a special beer for their annual event. He answered their brief not with an amber bitter or a dark mild, but with a golden well-hopped beer. Read the rest of this entry »Tags: Golden Ale, hopback, pale ale, summer lightning
Despite finding myself in deepest Norfolk last week, I found that I had actually picked up a selection of Scottish ales from the various beer outlets around the region. One of these is Trade Winds by Cairngorm Brewery, from Aviemore in the Highlands of the country.
The cask version is a three-time former Champion Beer of Britain in the Speciality Class, so Trade Winds comes with some pedigree and the aroma straight from the bottle displays one of its key assets straight away; a lovely hoppy-sweet scent that appeals to my recently aquired love of the hoppy beers. There is a slightly grassy note present, supported by a sweet fruitiness – most likely from the Elderflower as promised on the bottle.
The inital mouthfeel, considering the richness of the nose, is surprisingly astringent and a little thinner in the body than I anticipated, with a light carbonisation that tickles the tongue. Although these descriptions are generally negative connotations, this isn’t the impression I am trying to generate by using them; more that it is an unexpected experience from the richness promised by the aroma. Flavour-wise, the fruitiness remains, with a slight hint of blackberries that fills out an otherwise sharp, crisp, citrusy flavour. Read the rest of this entry »Tags: blackberry, Cairngorm, champion beer of britain, citrus, fruitiness, scottish, trade winds
Yellow Hammer stood out on the Sainsbury’s shelf like a woodpecker drilling into my brain, the bold yellow type urging me to pick it up.
My first O’Hanlon’s ale poured a light golden colour with a delicate head. It was pretty lively with a slightly yeasty aroma that many bottle conditioned ale seems to have.
This was followed by the fresh floral scent of Cascade hops, which preceded a golden malt taste that was fresh and sweet. I was right in the mood for it and it came up trumps with a nice balance of hops, malt and sweetness to refresh my palate.
This is a zesty little number, the malt is subtle and it has the character you might expect from the small, lively bird it’s named after. This is a beer that could really hit the spot in a refreshing way.
This beer brings up a question I’ve been meaning to ask for a while: ‘bottle conditioned’ or ‘not bottle conditioned? It’s a debate that every now and then rears its divisive head. This is a nice beer, and I’d certainly have it again, but how much better is it because it is bottle conditioned? (I’d genuinely like to know!).
I’m not sure I like having to take great care and attention pouring this when I’m dealing with what is essentially a light, refreshing golden beer. If I wanted this on a summer night I’d prefer to slightly chill it and not have to worry about sediment escaping the safe confines of the bottle.
That sediment makes a big different if it does end up loose in your glass of beer (a little bit of which did near the end).
Regardless of that this is a good beer that I’d love to try on draft in a beer garden and will definitely try in a bottle again (pouring with more due diligence this time around!).Tags: beer, Bottle Conditioned, competition, golden, sainsburys
Bath Ales Golden Hare
Objectivity in any sort of reviewing is very difficult. I’m the first person to admit that my favourite beers of all time are drowned in nostaglia and personal experience – drinking Brooklyn EIPA or Old Hooky my judgement is clouded with an emotional connection to those beers that were my first of a particular style or are associated with personal triumphs.
Beyond these beers there’s the beers by breweries that I just love. I’m a sucker for St Peter’s rounded bottles and for Brooklyn’s adaptable logo designs*, BrewDog oozes rebellion whilst White Shield, steeped in history, will always be my benchmark of English IPAs.
Bath Ales is one of the breweries that is starting to make a mark with me. I love the labels, they are a mix of contemporary and traditional, somehow reminding me of a cosy yet modern pub and restaurant, the sort of establishment that serves continental lager with olives, and is decorated with Habitat ceiling lights hanging from 13th century exposed beams – all set against a roaring fire in the middle of the Dales of course. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea but it makes me feel cosy whilst remaining comfortably luxurious.
The names of Bath Ales’ beers are similarly classy whilst rooted in the Avon countryside and the charm of rural life.
And the beers are good too: Barnstormer winner of the Sainsbury’s Beer Competition 2008 is a distinctive dark ale, Gem a rich amber bitter and Wild Hare, a citrusy pale beer brewed with yeast.
But the cream of the crop might just be this little number, Golden Hare.
Golden Hare pours a gleaming gold, light amber and yellow. There’s a slight floral aroma and a fruity nose. It slips down your throat with ease (as most Bath Ales do), with hints of tropical fruits following a light and fresh golden body.
This is crisp, refreshing, almost invigorating – dry yet thirst quenching. The tangy aftertaste begs another sip and the zesty flavours exude sunny days and long nights.
But am I being objective, or have I succumbed to the ‘pick me off the shelf’ labelling and paradoxically modern/traditional branding?
Who knows? And does it really matter if I enjoy it?
Tags: bath ales, bees, birds, golden
October 9th, 2009Golden Ales
On arrival at Sainsbury’s to peruse the finalists in their 2009 beer competition, Birds & Bees immediately caught my attention. The label is modern and playful and stood out from the crowd.
I loved the colour and the illustration and it fell into my basket (placed very carefully I should say) without further thought.
Originally I was going to save this beer but it on an indecisive evening with the light not fading until late into the night, it was this that grabbed my attention again and I plucked it from the shelf.
Not 100% sure what to expect I took care opening it and poured out the golden liquid. It had a light hoppy aroma, and light fruity taste. Turns out it’s a light golden ale! Swill this around and the colour, aroma and the taste combine to make a really appealing golden beer.
The gentle fruit and floral aroma (looking at the label that must be the elderflower and the Cascade hops) is really refreshing. Honey and lemon blossom on your tastebuds and there is a malt finish that adds an unexpected bitter tang to the beer, which is just enough to make you want another sip and makes this an enticing session beer.
Trying this it was actually one of the first summer ales I’ve had and I wish I’d been able to get my hands on some in May or June as this might just have been my proverbial soundtrack to the summer (that typical over in a flash summer we usually have!)
I’ve only tried the bottle but I can only imagine the cask version of this is the perfect pint on a sunny afternoon.Tags: bees, birds, citrus, elderflower, golden, honey, summer, williams brothers
The first in our Sainsbury’s Beer Competition series is Woods Shropshire Lass. You might have guessed from the name that it pours a blonde, light beer (why aren’t there any darker beers called brunette?!).
A sniff of this is nice indeed, a floral fruity scent reminiscent of a spring day or a summer morning from a novel.
To drink it’s tasty and refreshing, a crisp, blonde body makes this an easy drinking ale.
Nothing in this beer compromises any other flavour, there are no taste that haggle for your attention or force you to notice them.
It’s a gentle and taste beer, delicately fruity and well balanced.
I reckon most pub goers could fulfil a session on this (during the milder months of the year at least.Tags: beer, blonde, brunette, competition, sainsburys, shropshire lass, woods, woods shropshire lass beer review sainsburys competition