WITH July 1 marking the hundredth anniversary of the First World War offensive in France that became known as the Battle of the Somme, I thought it appropriate that Hugh the Neighbour (HTN) and I should mark this commemoration with something fitting.
So it is with a sense of remembrance that this week I will talk about two English beers both from breweries that were active when the English troops started digging in.
Wells and Young Brewing is the product of a merger between Charles Wells (est. 1876) and Young and Co (est. 1831), and the Bombardier Ale is one of their better known drops. This is a beautiful example of an English ale.
It demonstrates a real balance between hops and malt, resulting in that Goldilocks effect of it being not too fruity nor too dark and bitter.
A lovely golden copper colour in the glass, it holds a head beautifully and demonstrates real complexity - from that first sip to the lingering reminder of malt on the back palate.
At 5.2% alcohol volume, this beer had surprising sessionability, although to be truthful a couple are enough as it does feel like you are eating a pie in every glass. It certainly is a far cry from some of the insipid and flat English ales that a Scottish colleague of mine refers to as "Pish".
The Broadside Strong Original Ale from Adnams Brewery (est. 1872) was produced to commemorate a naval battle between the Dutch and the English in 1672.
Both HTN and I thought this dark English ale lacked the sophistication of the Bombardier, but it is still a very drinkable brew. At 6.3% alcohol volume it is at the serious stout levels of kick, so it would not be a beer to take to a Queensland summer barbecue.
As something to cuddle up to on a chilly winter's evening though, it certainly has a place. A bit more fruit on the nose and leaning to the hops rather than malt side of balance, it is still worth a crack if you want to try something different.
One tip for both beers is go against everything you know as a beer-drinking Australian and not over-chill them - these are definitely not beers to drink off ice as the flavours develop as they warm up in the glass. Either of these makes a fitting tribute to battles fought long ago.
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