Sunday, 8 March 2015

Shepherd Neame Family: Amber Ale

Amber Ale
Shepherd Neame
Cask: 4.5%
Brewer’s Notes
Amber Ale makes its seasonal appearance in January and February. First brewed in 2009, the beer immediately became one of Shepherd Neame's most popular seasonal brews, welcomed by ale-lovers as a warming treat during the coldest months of the year. A golden-brown ale with a fruity aroma and a full, malty palate, Amber Ale derives its unique signature from the special marriage of fruity, fragrant hops with Pale, Crystal and Brown malts, making it a classic beer to savour and enjoy.

I do wish the above narrative coincided with the genie I found in the bottle. The “full, malty palate” is nothing more than gripping, vice- like; bitter, earthy, valerianic and dry. There is essence of coffee bean & roast but conjoined, and not in a good way with floral notes; the darker aspects of elder predominate presumably due to a frightful blend of Fugglewuggle hops. The beer is not copper so much as mahogany. As a “winter warmer” it is disappointing, lacking spiciness or genuine warmth. There is also an unwelcome astringency; a kind of matronly “take your medicine” authoritarianism which baulks mightily. On drinking it down, the uncompromising leather belt strap lacquer leads you to think “well its not a bad beer” and “if it was the only beer I had ever drank I wouldn’t complain”. It is decidedly not average though. I conscripted my brother’s help over this one. We both agreed it was a kind of context dependent brew as to whether you enjoyed it. It’s got Northern Working Men’s Club written all over it: dominos and flat caps, Capstan full strength afterwards and then home for lamb hot pot for tea. That said though, its not much of a session beer. More a bleak snowy port of call: a 'quick one' whilst your walking yer whippet.

Marks /10

North Utsire

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