Friday, July 31, 2015

Got that Old English Feeling again

One of my top 10 breweries is Adnams. I have been educated by the best, well Steve D., and years ago, when the Southwold was a regular in The Rat & Ratchet, he used to rave about it. I was a little underwhelmed to be truthful; then the Guru said ' try it without a sparkler'. I did, and from then on, I was a convert.
In the recent weeks I have come across a fair few Adnams beers in our area. Fat Sprat' 'has made another appearance - a bit spicy and grapefruity, with a nice background - their 3.8% summer beer. And yesterday I came across 'Lighthouse'. 3.4%. I have had it before, and it has always seemed a beer for the hot sunny days, (lets face it they have been few and far between lately), but it has always hit the spot. As it did yesterday, and hit the spot for a couple of extra pints ! I knew the brewery used traditional English hops in some of their beers, but I was surprised to find this was a mixture of Fuggles and Goldings hops, and pale ale and crystal malt. It tasted more European than that. And it is named after the famous Southwold Lighthouse.

But as always the jewel in the crown, the piece de resistance came when I found 'Southwold Bitter' on the bar. I was a little sceptical. I thought that the beer may have changed, as some of the beers from my past have, or my taste buds would have changed. But no. It is still the same brilliant beer it always was. Copper coloured, and hopped (and dry hopped) with Fuggles, with East Anglian barley malt, it is a beer that if had read the ingredients I may have shied away from. I would have missed a classic. 3.7% and just too drinkable, the beer has been brewed for nigh on 50 years - so it must be ticking some boxes.

So, if you have never tried it. Give it a go, but as my Guru said 'without sparkler', it gives far more depth to the beer. And it is available a bit stronger (4.1%) in bottles, which I must confess I never realised, should you fancy a tipple or two at home.


Rocket said...

Where would we find the adnans bitter ? Gonna visit the hudd this w/end. Ta

Timbo said...

I managed to get it in The Grove, but it had run off yesterday...will let you know if I come across it elsewhere before the weekend

KJP said...

I am interested in the use of sparklers. I am under the impression that they are much more common in the North than in the South; this may be because a larger head is preferred in the North or so I am led to believe. But they also are meant to change the taste of the beer (some or all?). If this is true, a northern beer would be brewed in the expectation of their use (and so should be distributed with one even in the south) and for a southern beer the reverse should apply. That this has not happened may be indicative that what I said about the head is correct.
But here is something curious. . I am abroad but used the CAMRA site to look up some pubs in my old area, Woodford on the NE London/Essex border. For one it said that McMullen (Hertfordshire) seem to have new policy of serving its cask beer through a sparkler which would be removed upon request. At another (Greene King of Suffolk) that they had “Both Southern & Northern (sparkler) dispense available.” I am not sure if they remove the sparkler or have two beer engines; that was for the IPA, there was no mention in relation to their Abbot so one would presume that there was no sparkler. In both cases it was recommended that the sparkler was not used.
Any thoughts on this will be gratefully received.

Timbo said...

With reference to the comment about is an argument that will go on forever. It is traditional for Northern beers to be served with a tighter head than that of southern beers, this coming often from the method of dispense (i.e a swan neck and a tight sparkler). This does tend to give more flavour into the head of the beer, and occasionally (as with Southwold) I can definitely tell the difference in methods of dispense. I think it makes the end product more attractive, with a tight head rather than a flat top. There are several different styles of sparklers available too, with does tend to cloud the issue regarding the head with those with smaller holes giving a tighter head - the Grove, for example, uses ones with a larger bore, and this does tend to give a looser head, but without the loss of flavour. If there is a sparkler, and you prefer you beer served without, any good barman should remove it for you. It does not tend to be as easy in the south where they are not used and the bar staff are often reluctant to supply one - or use yours if you have one about your person. It is a fascinating subject that I may well revisit soon in a post