Well, we might be in the midst of a recession and looking at the silly old taxman taking an even bigger cut from our beer-money, but at least the weather is lovely. So lovely that I’ve been neglecting my blog in favour of enjoying the sunshine. The shame! So I thought I’d do a topical review for you tonight of a rather nice Pale Ale I picked up in Cheshire from the Spitting Feathers Ministry of Beer range. Spitting Feathers is about as traditional as a brewery could be. Their home, in the village of Waverton, is a farm so the grain used in the brewing process is used to feed the livestock, including the pigs who go on to become tasty sausages made using some of their tasty beer (ahh…the circle of life). They also keep bees and the honey goes into their seasonal ‘Honey Trap.’
The family have been farming in Waverton for five generations so they are probably in quite a good position to understand the importance of pubs in the community and the great brewing traditions here in the UK. They came up with the Ministry of Beer range as a way of expressing their dissatisfaction that ‘successive governments have failed to recognise the importance of these industries.’ I managed to track down their False Economy (ABV 3.8%) which, as an English pale ale, I would normally have dismissed. The label caught my eye though and the description promised ‘so much hop that it probably costs the ministry more than it recovers in revenue.’
It’s actually their winter edition, available from October to December but from the description I assumed it would be more suitable for a springtime sup. Once the beer was in the glass and I got a whiff of those hops and honey, I knew I was right. The color is a cloudy golden haze like runny hunny on a sunny window sill. There’s no bubbles but the flavor is still quite lively with lots of honey and some subtle spice. The bitter hops only come through towards the end before a final flash of honey taking you through to a long, dry hoppy finish with a hint of refreshing citrus. Summer in a glass…pretty much everything you would expect from a good quality pale ale and certainly not a false economy. I’d be pretty keen to try some of their other stuff, particularly their Heritage Ales brewed with brewing historian John Murray (if you got Beer magazine this quarter you would be excited about these too!)
While I’m in a summery mood, I really want to share with you another recent discovery – the Island Brewery of the Isle of Wight. Yes there’s a new kid on the Island – watch out Goddards! I found their very refreshing, hoppy Wight Gold on tap at the lovely Shoe Inn on a weekend bike ride on the South Downs. If you see it, try it. I’m looking forward to seeing more from these guys on my next trip to the Island. Cheers!