Sunday, 9 May 2010

Two Kentish Ales

Fiona went on a sun-and-sand holiday to the Maldives last week. OK, it was actually a school trip to Kent. Less fun for her, but better for me, as she brought back two local beers.

Both are from the Shepherd Neame brewery, tagged on their website as “Kent’s largest brewer (and Britain’s oldest)”. The bottles are hefty beasts, but the glass is clear, which is a bit weird. I thought clear glass was bad for beer, no?

The first of our two Kentish tastings is Shepherd Neame Master Brew Kentish Ale. It’s got a lovely copper colour. The taste is strong initial hoppiness, with some peanut notes -- not anything like the nutty French beer, La Choulette Blonde -- but still noticeable. 4% alcohol means it’s not too threatening.

Unfortunately, another flavour you get is cardboard. The lasting bitter aftertaste almost saves it. But not quite.

The second Kentish offering is Shepherd Neame Early Bird Spring Hop Ale. This one is immediately more impressive. The colour is not very different from the first ale, but the taste is far more enjoyable. Very hoppy, sure, but there are strong citrus elements here. Lemon zest. Something of blackberries, too. Fiona says it’s like Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

Perhaps, yes. 4.5% for those who are still counting.

So, one somewhat disappointing and one quite good. Still, I’m guessing these Kentish ales are probably better than what they brew in the Maldives.

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