Sometimes a beer tastes far better than it looks, and sometimes a beer looks much better than it tastes.
Shepherd Neame Double Stout looks so good my first thought is to worry profusely that it won’t live up to its aesthetic appearance.
I needn’t have worried.
It’s not the double stout I’ll drink on my wedding day, or save for my first born child’s 18th, but sat on the cusp of the festivities, last one standing (well, sitting) on Christmas Eve, it’s a manifestation of the calm before the storm.
A quintessentially modern vintage design introduces a stout to be proud of. Creamy but
carcinogeniccharred; fruit finished with rustic chocolate; bitter and laced with promises of liquorice. A quintessential stout, doubly aromatic, easy to drink but restrained.
A double stout nightcap at Christmas is no surprise. That it came in Shepherd Name bottle is a bit of an unexpected present.Tags: shepherd neame
October 31st, 2012Amber ales
I reckon the UK is on the cusp of starting to take Halloween seriously, like they do over the pond.
And why shouldn’t that be a good thing? It’s an excuse to be creative, meet friends and drink beer.
Especially when the beer is halloween beer, like Spooks from Shepherd Neame. 100% marketing gimmick but then again the whole halloween thing is, so let’s not judge without trying first.
Turns out it’s the sort of beer that would do just fine for a halloween party – deep amber in colour, seasoned with a dark chocolate digestives, a nutty swagger and a dash of lemon juice that disappears in a grave of treacle.
A great companion to apple bobbing but just the one for me please. It’s Halloween and there’s plenty more dressed up beers out there to play trick or treat with.Tags: halloween, shepherd neame
Think of Kentish brewing and you might think typical English countryside: dappled light and ruddy-faced urchins diving around the hop poles as Ma and Pa Larkin bumble about with a haycart. It’s a comforting pastoral image a thousand miles away from the bleak, flat landscape of Thanet or the cut-to-the-bone North Sea wind that rips across Whitstable Bay in November. But some of the best brewing Kent has to offer goes on right in the heart of this unforgiving and extreme region of the country. Three breweries – Shepherd Neame, Gadds and Whitstable Brewery – all produce workmanlike ales that should be tried, even if you can’t get hold of their most interesting brews north of the Watford Gap.Read the rest of this entry » Tags: autumn, gadds, kent, shepherd neame, whistable
July 30th, 2010Pubs & bars
I’ll be going back to Bar t’at, Ilkley’s ‘North Bar’, because the first time around I wasn’t bowled over. We didn’t need to comment to the forgetful bartender, he only had to see the look on my Dad’s face.
Suffice to say my pint of Thornbridge Hopton was just the ticket and our longer than expected wait for my mums coffee gave us the chance to admire a host of brewery related posters and paraphernalia. Our beloved Hooky took pride of place over the stairs whilst Sheps, Brakspear, Harvey’s and Bass adorned the walls around our table.
There was even some Belgian bits and bobs hiding way up towards the ceiling, including a prominent pink elephant poking his head up above the doorway.
We even had time to piece together the West Yorkshire dialect that litters the wall, with it’s talk of unfortunate lovers, worms and ducks.
Nil points for the service (we’re blaming it on the lack of hats, or even Mary Jane) although that’s only because it was my Mum who got the worlds smallest coffee after the worlds longest wait (if it had happened to anyone else I’d have just used the opportunity for another pint).
Bar t’at will certainly get a second chance though and I’ll be jumping on the train from Leeds one weekend to drink the hand pulls and the fridges dry, hopefully to the point where I’m singing along to the walls even though I can’t read them.
Anyone fancy it? Read the rest of this entry »Tags: bar t'at, Bass, brakspear, harveys, Hook Norton Brewery, ilkley, shepherd neame, West Yorkshire, yorkshire
Dubbed “The Local Hero”, Shepherd Neame’s Master Brew is a self-assured ale from “Britain’s Oldest Brewer” (which presumably is also Britain’s oldest brewery – or this self-assurance also extends to the life-expectancy of the particular person who brewed the beer). The blurb on the bottle proclaims the English origin of the drink in various languages,
suggesting not only does it aim to be a local hero, but it’s battling for admiration abroad.
Visually, the dark copper liquid conjures the image of polished mahogany, and this polish certainly rubbed off on the bottle designers, with embossed features on the glass and gold detailing on the label trying to differentiate this Kentish nectar from beers of lesser heritage.
The moment the bottle cap pops clear and the conditioned gases scream forth – sending an amorous aroma like a booty call to your brain for a threesome with your taste buds – you know you’re in for a treat. The mild acidity of the hoppy scent assaults the senses, reassuring you that this isn’t a common-or-garden hint-of-citrus ale, but an all-season classic.
It seems the one area those Southerners aren’t soft is in their cultivation of hops, as with each mouthful the subtle cinder-toffee tones of the crystal malt seem to be immediately quelled by the dominating bitterness of the Kentish hops. This is no bad thing, but the more complex flavours are left to cower in the corner of your palate, whimpering quietly in the hope of a look-in.
The bitterness gradually subsides to leave a faintly smoky aftertaste with a suggestion of oak, leaving the warm glow of an open log fire smouldering on the tongue, begging to be stoked by more of this amber ale.
At 4.0% ABV (bottled, cask is 3.7%), Shepherd’s Neame Master Brew Kentish Ale is a typical session bitter with distinctive but not offensive taste, demonstrating why this old brewer is still going strong in today’s growing beer market.Tags: kent, local hero, master brew, shepherd neame