Thursday, August 25

Ahoy My Beauties! It’s Adnams

It’s not often a writer gets to use the word ‘serendipity’ in his or her copy without blushing but that’s precisely how I’d describe my encounter with Adnams Brewery – one of Britain’s oldest independent brewers.
Two days after picking up a couple of bottles of Adnam’s Broadside at my local bottle shop in Adelaide I received a chirpy email from Caroline Walker, the company’s public relations maestro, telling me that the Suffolk brewery has begun shipping Broadside, a fruity dark ale, and Ghost Ship, a refreshing pale ale, to Australia in volume. Bingo!
I’d already fallen in love with Broadside, a beautifully crafted beer, dark hued and with a lovely caramel aftertaste, but needed to return to the store for a couple of cans of Ghost Ship – a surprisingly light, New World pale ale (which uses three types of American hops).
Both beers have travelled well from the UK and are fresh and clean tasting, but watch out for the Ghost Ship 440ml cans which are very gassy. Open carefully, preferable in the sink. I had no such issues with Broadside, a traditional English ale packed with rich Christmas cake flavours, which is being exported in handsome 500ml bottles.
Caroline tells me that Broadside commemorates the Battle of Solebay, when the Dutch Fleet surprised a joint Anglo-French armada off the south coast of England in 1672. Preparations for the naval engagement were apparently hampered by the fact that most of the English sailors were getting sloshed on local Suffolk beer – the precursor of the lovely ruby red brew now being made by Adnams. The naval engagement ended in a draw, by the way.
As a passionate advocate of English beer, especially traditional bitter, I’m delighted to see Adnams enter the Australian market. Ten years ago the only UK beer on our shelves was Newcastle Brown or, if you were lucky, a bottle of Theakston Old Peculiar long past its prime. How things have changed! Big retailers such as BWS, Dan Murphy’s and Vintage Cellars are now importing a wide range of British beers and, thankfully, Australian prejudice about “flat, warm” English ale is slowly fading – although not completely. Young, open-minded Australian and New Zealand craft brewers can take much of the credit for making English ales, stouts and porters cool again and perhaps paving the way for brewers such as Adnams to fire a broadside (pun intended) across the tastebuds of complacent middle-aged Australian beer drinkers who remain wedded to commercial ice-cold lager –  which a brewing mate of mine in the Hunter Valley calls  “lawnmower beer”, the type of forgettable froth you sink after mowing the grass on a hot day. So get out there and try a robust, food-friendly English ale – and look out for the special Adnams summer promotion at Dan Murphy’s stores during November and December.

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