Sunday, 8 March 2015

Shepherd Neame Family

In this & the following few blogs, I will review a trio of the lesser known brews from the Shepherd Neame Family. Most people are familiar with their big hitters; Spitfire, Bishop’s Finger, 1698, and their 6.1% India Pale Ale. I will use these (well, actually Spitfire only) as a sort of ‘benchmark’ against which the other lesser- knowns are compared. As this is the ‘mother blog’ I will summarise the beers concerned here, and proceed to review them individually later on. Sound like a plan? How wonderfully sober minded of me.


Marks /10

As an aside, I am not sure how much market research Shepherd Neame have done on all this flag waving, wartime spirit, Spitfire, “We won the war” UKIP bollocks but it quite puts me off drinking it. They are not the only offender; there are numerous brewers waving the flag with English this, and Union Jack that. I find myself drinking it in spite of the froth of hegemonic nationalism, followed by a yeasty glug of Land Of Hope And Glory. Not all beer drinkers are belching bloated English Defence League members. At least the organic beers were a more cerebral affair for the armchair anarchist, bedecked with anti- Slavery campaigner William Roscoe, or a light historic introduction to the historic Engine Vein seam at Alderley Edge. There, that makes the beer go down better doesn’t it. And so it is refreshing to drink Shepherd Neame beers without the wartime iconography.

What a load of marketing Bollocks

So anyway, in establishing a benchmark, I proffer this review from the brewer’s website which I find hard to fault.

Beer review: Spitfire by Shepherd Neame

The Spitfire is one of Shepherd Neame’s flagship Kentish ales. The Faversham-based brewer has been making beer from locally-grown hops since 1698 so has had plenty of practice in creating high-quality ales. Named after the iconic fighter plane that was a familiar sight over southern England during World War II, the Spitfire is a fairly strong premium beer made from three variety of Kentish hops.

Like Shepherd Neame’s other heavyweight, the Bishop’s Finger, the Spitfire has a slight fizz to it, but it’s more like champagne on your tongue than random gassiness. It tastes as ruddy as it looks, living up to the brewer’s boasts of a “spicy, hoppy” flavour. “Hints of marmalade, red grapes and pepper are thrust from a springboard of warm, mellow malts,” is how Shepherd Neame describes it.

It’s not a light drink – you can feel the strength almost straight away – but it’s one of my go-to ales and I thoroughly recommend giving the Spitfire a whirl.

The essentials:
ABV: 4.5% from bottle, 4.2% from cask
Colour: Dark amber, auburn
Nose: Hoppy, slightly metallic
Taste: Medium-to-strong bitter flavour, slightly fizzy
Our verdict: Magnificent, one of our favourites and – luckily – widely available

The “fizz”, the “spicy hoppy flavour”, and the “marmalade, red grapes and pepper” are all forgiven in the melding alchemy of Spitfire, which is quite a feat given my predilection for fairly flat simple session ales of low ABV. I suppose every mans head can be turned now & then. But can they replicate that feat with their lesser known beers? Tune in to the next blog to find out... 

North Utsire

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