It has been a while since we published a round up of booze we’ve been sent (you can blame it on us being too busy launching a book) and we now have a backlog of reviews to get through. To start with we’ve plucked out the best of the beers, which include plenty of options for the alcohol-free drinker…
Round Corner Brewing
We have a New Favourite Brewery – Round Corner, from the famous food town of Melton Mowbray. We visited the home of Pork Pies and Stiton a few years ago, around the time Round Corner was starting up, and were mightily impressed with the pubs. “If only the town had a decent brewery” we muttered.
Well now it does, and they kindly sent us a range of their core beers to try, along with a few specials too. Perhaps the biggest compliment we can pay them is that every beer tastes just as we would hope from the style, albeit with the brewery’s own imprint on it.
Their Pale Ale, Steeplechase at 4.4%, is a gluggable number with a sweet, malty backbone and some citrussy hops that offer enough bitterness to make an impression and pull you in for another glug. While the New Zealand Lager, Mainland (5.2%), is lightly sparkling with a decent weight to the smooth malts and a tinge of fresh melon from the New Zealand hops.
This style-mastery continues through IPAs, a Black Lager, an outstanding Brown Ale and more. With a tap room on site we’re thinking it’s about time we paid Melton Mowbray another visit soon…
Find out more at www.roundcornerbrewing.com
Bristol Beer Factory Clear Head, 0.5%
Bristol Beer Factory once held the accolade of New Favourite Brewery and we’ve continued to enjoy its beers over many years (in particular the excellent Milk Stout). A recent release, Clear Head, has now made it to New Favourite Alcohol Free Beer status.
It’s a Pale Ale stacked with Mosaic and Citra hops, which load it with grapefruit flavours, while the addition of lactose gives it the kind of full creaminess that so many alcohol free beers lack (what with that Milk Stout in their repertoire, we reckon they might be the best users of lactose in the business).
Besides being a great beer they’ve also used the release to help raise awareness of men’s mental health by teaming up with the charity Talk Club.
Get your hands on a 12-pack here
Lowlander Cool Earth Lager, 4%
Dutch Brewery Lowlander has also entered the low alcohol market with a brace of beers – a 0% Wit and 0.3% IPA – which they’ve released alongside the 4% ‘Cool Earth Lager’.
Lowlander uses botanicals throughout their range of beers, with the flavours subtly complimenting the hops rather than barging to the fore. The Witbier features orange and lemon peel ‘reclaimed’ from bars and restaurants; the IPA has more orange peel along with cardamom and mango; while the lager contains lemongrass.
We particularly enjoyed the Cool Earth Lager, which has a light zestiness that aids its pilsner crispness. Lowlander are also donating money from sales of this beer to help fight climate change by adding to a carbon-capturing seagrass meadow.
Cool Earth Lager is available for a while in Sainsbury’s
West Berkshire Brewery, Good Old Boy Best Bitter, 4%
A very smart package from West Berkshire Brewery recently landed on our doorstep. The box contained two bottles of Good Old Boy Best Biter (4%) along with a Pale Ale, Detour (4.5%) and a 0.5% Pale Ale, Solo.
While the Pale Ales cans are designed along modern craft ale lines we think it’s great to see a beer labelled ‘Best Bitter’ sitting among them in much more traditional livery. We receive so many beers following contemporary style trends that more often than not, what we crave most, is a proper British Bitter.
Good Old Boy certainly hit the craving square-on, giving us a rich and malty liquid that has the kind of hop flavourings that evoke English hedgerows and some straw bitterness supplemented by a light squeeze of citrus and pine to aid refreshment. It’s the kind of good old English bitter that tastes as good in the summer as it does in front of a winter fire.
Good Old Boy is available in good old Waitrose
Adnams X Thornbridge, Nevermore, 5%
When we were notified that Adnams had teamed up with Thornbridge for their latest beer collaboration we took notice. This is the Premier League of collaborations. Adnams, among the best of Britain’s family breweries, dating back to 1872, and Thornbridge, one of the first british breweries to embrace the new craft ale movement when it formed nearly 20 years ago.
Nevermore is billed as an India Porter and it’s something of a collaboration between two of each brewery’s range – Adnams Ghost Ship and Thornbridge’s Wild Raven. Initially it feels like you’re drinking a top drawer porter – one of the full-flavoured-but-not-yoghurt-thick kind, with roasty malts giving it some coffee flavours that are accentuated by a touch of pine bitterness. Then you notice a slight juiciness, with grapefruit and other tropical flavours peeking through the darkness.
Adnams 2021 series of collaborations champions sustainability, and this brew is made with local barley and an all-British line-up of hops. It’s a best of British hybrid that maintains both breweries excellent standards.
Get yourself some Nevermore from Adnams brewery shop