Romney Marsh Brewery – Amber Ale

Romney Marsh, ‘The Fifth Continent’, located on the Kent coastline. It boasts picturesque sand dunes; historic and wartime architecture; a national nature reserve and most importantly (some may say) it’s very own, family run brewery, suitablly named – Romney Marsh Brewery. They’re a very recent addition to the area, only established in Spring of last year but they’ve certainly started on the right foot. One of their four bottled ales reached the final of the prestigious ‘Taste of Kent’ awards. ‘Amber Ale’, no prizes for guessing what style it is, was a runner up in the 2015 ‘Best Kentish Beer’ category.

It’s pretty clear to see how it got that far, it’s an exceptional example of the style. The combination of three hop varieties, two from across the Atlantic and one from the brewery’s home county harmonise to produce a simply quaffable ale. The bottle’s label suggests drinking it only lightly chilled, so to maximise the tropical fruit taste. There’s bitterness and hints of caramel on the long finish and the head sticks around for the full duration. I’ve yet to visit their headquarters but next time I’m in the county I’m planning to pick up a refillable jug. I’ve no doubt the brewery will have continued success if their upcoming beers are as good as this 4.4% ABV Amber Ale.

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BrewDog – Punk IPA

Born in 2007 from two men and a dog, in Ellon, Scotland. BrewDog have come a long way in 7 years. They now have 358 employees, 14000+ shareholders, and they operate 26 bars. In 2013 they were the fastest growing company in the UK’s eating and drinking out market. But most importantly, their beer is widely available, in supermarkets and bars alike.

If you’ve heard of them for nothing else it’s probably their controversial marketing, whether deliberate or not, it often provokes a response from watchdogs, competitors and the media. In their early days, they famously named a beer ‘Speedball’, (after the lethal mix of cocaine and heroin!) and then marketed it with ‘Class A Strong Ale’. It was soon banned by the Portman Group, to be expected I guess; nevertheless it gave them a boost in the industry; succès de scandale, there’s no such thing as bad publicity, it seems.

A definite favourite of mine is their Punk IPA, by no means a new introduction (it’s been around for years!). It’s massively successful, a popular example of this style amongst fans, available in bottle, keg and very recently (and interestingly) cans! Hopefully it’ll help lead the charge in canning instead of bottling craft beer.

Crafted with no less than 6 hop varieties… Chinook, Ahtanum, Amarillo, Cascade, Simcoe and Nelson Sauvin. They bundle together to create the initial burst of intense flavour, a wonderfully, fresh, golden taste. Considering the amount of hops used, it’s gracefully balanced and in no way overpowering. It has masses of tropical fruit flavours, which would compliment strongly flavoured food nicely. Despite it being 5.6% ABV it could easily be a session beer.  I personally think beers of this calibre benefit from being chilled well, so it’s a perfect alternative to a cold lager in the hot sun.

BrewDog is undoubtedly a brewery with a very colourful history, and certainly has the beers to match.

Guinness Golden Ale

St. James’s Gate Brewery – Guinness Golden Ale

What better way to make the most of the British sunshine than to sit in the garden and enjoy a nice, cold Guinness – their new ‘Golden Ale’ that is.

The 250 year old company has clearly been trying to grab a part of the booming real ale market. Both the West Indies and Dublin Porter hit the market recently, and an American Lager was introduced to the U.S. So, their hoping this Golden Ale is a step further to capitalising the industry. But is the brand being stretched too far?

The creator of this new addition said he hoped it would appeal to a “broad range of people” and “introduce them to premium ale”. After hearing that and drinking a bottle, I now can’t help but think the people at Guinness are mainly targeting their regular draught stout fans to try, then continue to buy it. It’s like they’ve designed it to appeal for people without the passion for craft beers. Based on the beer itself I feel seasoned ale drinkers will try this once out of curiosity but probably never again…

It’s got a rich colour, but no head. Flavours are really subtle, and borders on being quite dull and bland. It’s not as bold as the stout, it’s a little lacklustre and really didn’t evoke the happy summer feeling that so many beers of this style can. Although it’s perfectly refreshing, it just doesn’t stimulate any interest – it’s plain boring. All in all, uninspiring and no where near on par with the smattering of golden ales the UK already has to offer.

Stick with Arthur Guinness’ Irish dry stout.

Craft Beer is in the Basket!

Here’s a piece of news I found quite interesting.

Today, the UK office for national statistics (ONS) has added bottled ‘craft’ beer to its shopping basket, the stuff that it uses to measure inflation. It’s the first time craft beer has been added to the basket of goods, in it’s 70 year history. Seeing as these items represent consumer spending, this obviously means the amount of money spent on speciality ales has increased steadily in the past 12 months. And it means shelf space in supermarkets is being increased to accommodate the rise – which is great!