Style: Strong ale
Brewery: Shepherd Neame
This independent brewery was established in 1698 in Faversham, Kent. Since the brewery’s formation, ownership has passed in unbroken succession through five families. It has 320 pubs and hotels in South East England and currently exports to 44 countries. They are best known for their Spitfire and Bishops Finger ales. Pale and crystal malts were used in the production along with Target, Challenger and Goldings hops. When I was looking for English beers to have in this tasting, a problem that arose was that there were so many strong ales released. As I didn’t want my tasting to have lots of beers from the same style, I picked what I thought would be the best of the selection, and I believe I made the right choice.
This was clear amber with low carbonation and a head that disappeared rather quickly, which is true for the style. The aroma was an enticing blend of syrup, dark bread and a hint of copper but with a noticeable alcoholic edge to it which was unexpected. There was less of a boozy hit in the taste than in the aroma though, with a lovely range of flavours such as caramel, toffee, grass and biscuit all found. These were finished with a light earthy bitterness in the aftertaste. The body was medium to thick for the style, and coated the palate nicely upon sipping.
Out of all the options available in this style, I think I made the best choice. With a pedigree as an excellent English brewer, this beer continues in the same vein and was very enjoyable. It was so easy to drink and would be perfect to enjoy over the Christmas dinner table paired with meatballs or pigs in blankets. Well priced and delicious, this is a great choice at the festive season.