Friday, August 24, 2012

UK Pub Brews

The flavours and mouthfeel of the following five beers are characteristic of beers I associate with pubs in the United Kingdom. There are many nice flavours but the slightly watery mouthfeel keeps all of these beers refreshing so that you could easily drink more than a couple. Enjoy!

Spitfire Premium Kentish Ale (England - Faversham) 4.5%

A warm toffee, roasty flavour. A pleasant sweet grain taste as well as a lively hops taste; somewhat bitter as a result (of the hops). A mild sherry-esque flavour of fruit rounds out the mix. That same fruit sherry aspect is prominent in the aroma along with toffee and roasted tones. A unique and pleasant drinking beer.

Ruddles County Traditional English Ale (England) 4.7%

Smells of bitter hops and is smooth on the tongue and almost a little watery. Tastes like toasted bread, lightly caramel, pleasantly bitter with a hint of coffee and a sprucy hops aftertaste although it's not nearly as hoppy as the smell initially led me to believe. A refreshing and interesting mix of flavours.

Belhaven Best (Scotland) 4.8%

I can see why this would be as popular in Scottish pubs as the can claims (though I saw more Tennets, London's Pride and Stella Artois). Belhaven Best's aroma is chock full of caramelized malt, as is the flavour, though there are also smoke and wooden tones that make it tasty if you like reds or, ahem, Scottish ales. Also its creamy head of foam and slightly watery mouthfeel make it very much pub-appropriate and session-able. It is a reddish brown colour in a glass and quite enjoyable.

Boddingtons Pub Ale (England) 4.7%

When you pour this ale from it's charming tall-can you are rewarded with a gold coloured curtain of tiny cascading bubbles that forms an extremely creamy head of foam. The aroma is of fresh bread and lots of roasty notes with hints of hops and spruce.

The ale itself is smooth and creamy as promised, and fairly sweet with a caramel touch. While it has roast tones and is bitter, it is also watery in a way that makes it dance on your tongue: hitting here and there while never being too strong tasting. Seems like an ideal summertime beer even though I'm drinking it in the depths of February. Highly drinkable and very pleasant, authentic to the style and it pairs well with a variety of dishes, those containing Dijon mustard in particular.

Old Speckled Hen - Morland Brewing (England - Suffolk) 5.2%

A fruity bouquet and a extra-reddish sort of amber colour in a glass with a full head. In true English fashion, this beer should definitely be served a little warmer than most in order to get the full flavours. It is malty, and bitter but also sweet (just the way ale should be). The malt taste is roasty and there is a little bit of spiciness lurking there too. Something about Old Speckled Hen always reminds me of sun-dappled wood floors.

Overall it is not too strong tasting, so drinkers with tastes that tend to the more bland beers could try this for a initial excursion into the wonderful land of full flavoured beers and ales. Also, I feel Old Speckled Hen is a good example of an English ale or at least it puts me in mind of a few of the better ones I had the good fortune to imbibe while I was in the UK.

Chin chin!

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