Adnams: Selection Box


Hah.  Look what I found in the Framlingham branch of Solar/Co-Op when I was visiting my in-laws in Suffolk: a selection pack of Adnams beers.

Six of them for a tenner.  That’s what I call a bargain.  Keep an eye out for the reviews.  I’m not sure I can manage six bottles in one sitting, so they’ll be spread out a bit…

The box contains:

Southwold Bitter, Broadside, Explorer, Lighthouse, Gunhill and Ghost Ship

(Yes, I know.  I’ve already reviewed SW Bitter, Broadside and Ghost Ship…but I can still drink them!)

Brakspear: Bitter


Ladies and Gentlemen, I hereby provide you with full disclosure: this is one of my favourite beers in the world, ever.  There I’ve said it.  I’ll do my best to be even-handed, but it’s going to be difficult.  I might run out of superlatives.

Brakspear Bitter pours a really nice conker brown, with a very healthy effervesence.  The head is lacy white and long-lasting.

This bitter doesn’t have a complex aroma by any means, but that’s of no importance; it’s solid.  Solid malt, malt and more malt; a light flinty minerality does poke through here and there, whilst a little hoppiness peeks over the top and around the edges.

Upon tasting you get a beautifully solid slab of bitterness to chew on, this is backed up by perfectly judged malty and toasty notes.  On the after-taste a second strident dose of bitter rides in to clout you roundly and give you something to think about.

You really wouldn’t know that Brakspear Bitter is only 3.4% ABV, as it’s that well-made…and as it’s not too strong, you can drink more of it.  Hooray!

Folks, this is a study in the style of the English bitter, along with Adnams Bitter I consider it to be one of the de-facto standard bitters by which others should be judged.

Brakspear even make their bitter in a special way, using the “double-dropped” fermentation method.  Read all about it here:

As if all of the above wasn’t enough, I can buy 500ml bottles of Brakspear Bitter from my local Aldi (in Banbury) for 99p a bottle.  Yes, I’ll repeat that…99p a bottle.

It’s an absolute bloody steal at that price.  I buy them ten at a time.  Aldi: I think I love you for that.  Brakspear: I love you for being you.

Adnams: Ghost Ship

Adnams GS

Brrrr.  Shiver me timbers and all that jazz.  It’s Adnams Ghost Ship, a lovely pale ale that seems to be brewed in homage to all the shipwrecks and everything that have happened all up and down the Suffolk coast over the years.

I’m hoping that by this token one of the breweries around Oxfordshire will brew something up called Renten Rubber in homage to all of the shredded truck tyres that I seem to have to keep dodging when careening up and down the M40…

But I digress…

Ghost Ship pours a nice polished brassy-coppery colour (Bronze? My metallurgy has never been up to much) with a very sparse head, but no matter.

The aroma is complex, understated and surprisingly delicate – a little like a sea fret: lychees, tropical fruit and faint citrus waft back and forth in the air currents, while a firm underscoring of malt adds a background note of sweetness too.

The mouth-feel is slightly dryish, which would normally suggest the use of a brewing sugar, but if I know Adnams folks – and I don’t, but would like to – I suspect that they’ve mashed at a slightly lower temperature to get a more fermentable wort.  The taste is well-judged, delicate almost ethereal with a nice complexity and offers up perfect echoes of the aromas that I picked up to start with.  A matching taste and aroma combination.  Well done, Adnams.

This is a classic pale ale, but with just enough of an Adnams spin to get it that little bit different.  I had to buy mine in bottle form from a Supermarket somewhere in Suffolk.  I can’t get this in bottles in Oxfordshire…which is a shame.

Adnams: Southwold Bitter


Look here’s another beer from those lovely people at Adnams:

Adnams Southwold Bitter has an interesting label design and features Southwold Jack, who is the bell striker figure on the clock tower in Southwold and seems to be a local institution…the Adnams website has this to say:

Local legend has it, he [Jack] was actually a young man, a soldier or ‘man at arms’ from the Wars of the Roses, the mystery being, what was his connection to Southwold? The nearest of the civil wars to Southwold were in Barnet near London and St Albans.  Some believe he was a local boy who fought as an armoured foot-soldier for the House of York.  Some believe he was sent to protect Southwold after the wars from the smuggling that was rife along the coast. Pessimists believe he came to attack it.  The jury is still out.

Either way if he was still knocking about [as it were] today, he’d be proud to be associated with this brand and beer

It’s worth bearing in mind that Adnams intend this beer to be as near a match for the draught version as possible – which is good of them, I’ve had so many different beers where the bottle version bears no relation to the draught…

Straight from the bottle the Southwold bitter pours with a really nice bright clarity, is mid-brown coloured and features a nice tight white head.

The aroma doesn’t blow you away, but why should it?  It’s a bitter, and that how it should be. I found it beautifully bitter -crisply bitter, in fact- and very tasty; mouthwatering malt in the mouth without being over-sweet, which is a welcome thing as I find that too many beers these days seem to be over-sweet.

The after taste endures for a good long time and as soon as it’s gone prompts you to drink again.

What more can I say?  A first class bitter from a first class brewer.  Highly recommended and worth ringing the bells about.

Another beer from Asda, and as part of the three for a fiver deal it’s a bit of bargain.  I’m still waiting for the case, though…