'Ere, Bea Nat. Ah cam you ain't tokt abaht enny Inglish bea in ayjis? Sowt it ahht.
Thank-you, Mr Van Dyke, you're quite right that I have been neglecting the folks next door lately and it's time I rectified that. Shepherd Neame Master Brew is new to these shores, and I humbly present my appraisal.
Wherever Irish beer fanatics gather, someone will usually point out the craziness of Kent brewer Shepherd Neame and their clear glass bottles. Opinion then divides over whether their beers are any good or not. I tend to find that they're a mixed bunch and am never quite sure what I'm going to get when trying a new one. My guess on the clear glass is that it's an attempt to recreate the visual experience of a freshly-poured pint of ale to customers in the aisles of supermarkets. It's a daft strategy and it leads to lightstruck beer.
This bottle was no exception: a distinct skunky whiff, mixed with sugar, came up as it poured to a lovely thick and lasting head. The colour is an attractive red-gold, but you have to get that right or the clear glass is in vain. The flavour is mild and smoky, with a tannic bitterness followed by some sugar notes right at the very end. I found it quite dull to begin with, probably because I was drinking it too cold, but it got better and more complex as it went along.
It's not a world-changing beer, and not even as interesting as the bigger Neame flagships like Bishop's Finger and 1698. Instead, with an alcohol by volume of 4%, and even less in cask form, it's probably highly enjoyable to charge through a few pints. Not one for considered sipping, but a decent beer nonetheless.