It is always a pleasure to return to tasting a classic beer. This time it is Fuller’s ESB. The world standard for the Extra Special Bitter style of England, first introduced in 1971, it has gone on to become a favourite among many beer fans, and rightfully so, for the magical balance of this recipe is something to behold.
A beautiful copper coloured pour, this has all the flavour notes that a complex ale should have, but with a resolution in the long finish, where the highest quality hops and malts are combined for a supreme achievement that is rare in this world.
Yes, I said world. I am not going to be coy about this. Fuller’s ESB is one of those beers that all seekers of beer should try. The biscuit like body combined with citrus character: and that it is only an approximation, for a truly great beer finally, defies all description, and this is surely the case here.
The drinkability of this ale is remarkable. Funny how the alcohol strength (5.5% abv) is considered strong in Great Britain. Here in the United States, beer has gone through many extreme manifestations, so now this would be considered moderate. But you know, as the old saying goes: moderation in all things, including moderation.
It is always a pleasure to discover a unique, tasty, beer recipe. This is certainly the case with Samuel Adams Norse Legend, the Boston Beer Company’s tribute to Sahti, the ancient ale style that took hold in Finland, hundreds of years ago, where juniper berries were used as a filter and preservative. Often said to be the invention of the Vikings, Sahti (also with its use of rye) is a virtual song of the earth in flavour, with its herbal, woody spiciness. It is also a reminder of the power of women (brewsters) in the history of brewing. Even this small batch recipe, nearly 8 years in perfecting, was created by a woman brewer at Samuel Adams.
How brewing beer has been exclusively associated with men, only exposes the lack of knowledge about history. For it was women, in ancient civilisations, who made the beer. An ancient saying went: sister, your grains are tasty, my comfort. And this tradition went back thousands of years.
ENJOY NOW OR AGE IT TO FURTHER DEVELOP RICH AND UNIQUE FLAVORS: So says the Norse Legend label. Which, in beer doctor terms, may not be possible, since this fresh version is so delicious, it is hard for me to imagine setting this down for awhile.
I have great admiration for the brewing efforts of Samuel Adams and their continual work to not only bring quality beer to the market, but also their indefatigable efforts to celebrate the best of world beer culture. An outstanding example of these principals can be found in their Samuel Adams Tasman Red.
There are many reasons why I enjoy this beer. One of these is the fact that this is a red ale, in this case a red IPA, which serves as a beautiful reminder that red beers were the rage, a craft beer universe or two ago, when brews such as Pete’s Wicked Red were considered exciting and bold, during the intial re-discovery of beer with flavour.
Another reason I enjoy this ale is its delicious use of Tasmanian hops: Galaxy and Topaz; giving this ale a southern hemisphere dimension, which in my limited experience has always been good, whether it is Sierra Nevada Spring Harvest or Widmer Bros Nelson IPA.
But probably the best reason I recommend this ale is its extensive use of what Sam Adams founder Jim Koch calls “special purpose malts”, that frankly refuse to back down, despite the spicy hop platform. In that odd way, this brew reminds me of something produced by Fuller’s of London, in a British commonwealth sort of sensibility.
For beer seekers of quality, this is one to not be missed. Who knows, maybe this brew will spark a retro-craft-beer revival of all things red.
Due to some technical glitches, mostly on my part, my original Tavern & Family post was deleted from the world. Alas, I had no back up copy, but that’s okay because it is not a chore to revisit the pleasures of Yuengling beers, now that they have returned to the state of Ohio.
Now some in the so-called craft beer world discount the contributions of America’s oldest brewery for not being an artisan startup, with its regional personality. I say its time to recognise their great contributions, and one of the best examples is Yuengling Porter, “brewed expressly for tavern & family trade” as the label from Pottsville, PA states. A wonderfully flavourful, easy drinking dark brew.
Which also reminds me of the shock I gave to a sales rep from a distribution company who asked me why Yuengling beers sell well. “Because they taste good.” Which gets to the heart of the matter. Their Yuengling Light has converted many Bud Light fans. Although, I rarely drink beer called Light, I must admit this one is worth the effort. Like all great breweries, Yuengling has its own personality. Their house yeast is prevalent in their flavour profile, whether its their Traditional Lager, or Bock, or Lord Chesterfield Ale.
The Yuengling portfolio most certainly, has improved the state of beer in Ohio. Cheers!