Beers from the British Isles

I apologize for the length of time since my last post.  Unfortunately, life just won’t let me drink different beers frequently enough for my tastes.

Today, while choosing a six-pack sampler from Joe’s Craft Beer, I decided to keep up with the theme of beers by region.  After some serious thought, I chose the beers of the British Isles.  I’d like to note that I said “British Isles”, and not “Britain”, as two of these beers are Irish, and I would not want to offend any of the many Irish-Mississippians.  The English, Irish, and Scottish know their beers, and I hope that you all get to soon as well.


Bass

100_0768Note: the dog in this picture is also from the British Isles.

Touted as the World’s First Pale Ale, Bass is a go-to when you’re in the mood for a crisp, well-known English Beer.  It is an English pale ale, which is not quite as bitter as it’s cousin from across the pond, American pale ale, and no where near as hoppy as an India pale ale, a style of beer which, coincidentally, was created by the British, but I digress.  To the pale ale virgin, the English style, particularly Bass, is a good place to start.  The hint of bitter flavour is not overpowering, with a smooth finish.  The lack of hoppiness makes for a much more drinkable brew than most other pale ales.

So grab some fish and chips(that’s the full extent of my knowledge of British pub food) and enjoy this amber-coloured ale.  In the interest of full disclosure, I feel I need to tell you that Bass is now an American product, owned by Budweiser, which makes it no less delicious, but just a little less authentic in my view.

Trivia: Bass’s signature red triangle was the first registered trademark in England.

Newcastle Brown Ale

Newcastle-Brown-Ale

The classic, most popular, English Ale.  It is literally my favorite beer, period.  It has a delicious nutty maltiness that always satisfies.  It is better when served at a warmer temperature than lager, say 55 degrees, but honestly, this is the only beer that I would drink  at slightly lower than room temperature.  This is very helpful if you live in a city like Oxford, where it is illegal to sell cold beer.

Old Specked Hen

100_0781

This English ale only recently became available in Mississippi with last year’s law, but it is already a favourite of mine. It was introduced to my by brother-in-law Matt, and I am therefor in his debt.   As I stated above, I am a huge fan of Newcastle, and Old Speckled Hen shares a lot of the same characteristics.  They both are best served at a slightly higher temperature (Around 55 degrees), they both have a sweet, malty character, and they’re both smooth and oh so chuggable.  However, there are some key differences.  First, OSH does have it’s share of hoppiness, which is really only noticed in the lingering finish.  While Newkies have a nutty flavor, this beer brings more of a toffee flavor.   Not to mention, a six-pack of Old Speckled Hen costs roughly 2-4 dollars more than Newcastle, depending on where you go.

Smithwick’s Irish Ale

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Although I’m a fan of Irish Red Ales, I honestly hadn’t yet tried this widely available brand.   According to the brewery, Smithwick’s is the oldest Irish ale, inspired by the original circa 1710 recipe. The very light carbonation of this beer give it a smooth mouthfeel.  The flavor is dry with a pronounced hoppy bitterness balanced against grainy malt sweetness, with an almost citrus finish.  If you’re not really a fan of stouts, but want still would like to drink an Irish beer this March 17th, this Irish red ale would be a great substitute.

Murphy’s Stout

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Although Guinness is the gold standard of Irish stouts, I thought I would try the lesser known, but no less venerable, Murphy’s Stout.  In fact, Murphy’s was established in 1856, which means that it predates Guinness by 3 years.

The smooth, creamy texture, pitch-black colour, and nitrogen carbonation instead of carbon dioxide, make this beer very similar to Guinness, but for a  stout, there is an  extremely hoppy flavour.  It’s a delicious beer.  So this St. Patrick’s day, instead of going with the standard, impress your friends by choosing a more obscure, yet older, Irish stout.

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One response

  1. Good choices. Bass was the first beer I really liked, and I’ve been a fan of English and Irish (and Scottish) beers since. I’ve never understood the excitement about Belgian or German beers.

    The main problem with Newcastle is that when you get it in bottles it often tastes off, probably because of light getting through the clear glass. It’s definitely much better on tap, and I drank it regularly for years, but nowadays I find it too sweet, unless I happen to be in the right mood for it.

    You might look into Kilkenny for times when you want the nitrogen creaminess but not a stout.

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