Shepherd Neame Beers
Newsletter 54 With thanks to Bob Thompson BLO Swale CAMRA Branch 30.12.2013
I hope you all had a nice Christmas and will have a good cask beer New Year. Prior to the holiday I met with Richard Frost, the Head Brewer. We tried some of the seasonal ales and discussed the beers they will brew in 2014. The Pilot Brewery is currently mothballed, so this newsletter is all about the company’s plans for the coming year. There is a full program from the Main brewery and it is detailed below.
Unfortunately, some CAMRA members’ favourites have been dropped. This is for no other reason than viability. Please allow me to explain. Before a beer is brewed it is advertised to Shepherd Neame tenants and managers and also to free trade clients.
The smallest amount the brewery can produce is 400 firkins. To put that into perspective, the company owns around 350 pubs, so if every single pub in their estate took one cask, they would have to find a home for a further 50. Please remember that is based on the minimum brew, not a maximum.
Reality dictates that there are a considerable number of their own pubs that only ever order Masterbrew Bitter and probably Spitfire. So a pub has to be found for every cask of seasonal and special beer brewed. When the entire run is not distributed within a certain time period, then that beer is lost. When this occurs it is recorded and the most likely result is the beer does not appear the following year.
Unfortunately this seems to have occurred to Mild, last brewed for May 2013 on the Main plant. I also notice that Porter is not on the 2014 list so I guess the same has happened. It was dropped in the past for that reason. I am personally disappointed, as there were both favourites. In fact I have done a considerable amount of cramming on Porter over the last two weeks, in the Bear at Faversham, before it disappears. Canterbury Jack also falls in to this category.
The list below has dates attached to each beer. These refer to the period that distribution can be made. So it is entirely possible that a beer may not be on sale in a particular pub until about a week later than the commencement date and it is also feasible that it could be on offer in pubs after the finishing date.
There has been some redesign of pump clips and the beers are divided into four distinct series. There are “Seasonal”, which are the established beers that run for several months. This will have new rectangular pump clips to the same basic design with each being a different colour.
Next there is “Heritage” and these are the beers that are presented with the “Retro” type of pump clip design. Then there is the “Discovery” range of short-run summer/autumn beers. Finally there is category that is yet to get a name but could be thought of as seasonal specials. I state the series of each beer in the list.
6th January to 2nd March Amber Ale (4.5%) Seasonal
A dark brown ale with fruity aroma, citrus taste and a malty finish.
3rd February to 6th April India Pale Ale (4.5%) Heritage
A Pale Ale hopped four times with Kentish hops. Well balanced between malt and hops and a spicy aroma.
3rd March to 3rd June Early Bird (4.3%) Seasonal
This is brewed with Golding hops. It has pine and floral overtones and a soft hop taste.
7th April to 4th May Dragonfire (4.5%) Series name to be decided
The St George’s Day beer; it contains malted Barley, Oats, Rye and Wheat, with medium bitterness.
5th May to 3rd August Samuel Adams Blond Ambition (4.5%) Discovery
This Pale Ale is brewed with English and US Cascade hops. It has a slight grapefruit taste.
2nd June to 30th September Golding’s Ale (4.1%) Seasonal
A summer beer using citrusy hops with crystal and pale malt. Up to 2012 it was known as Whitstable Bay Ale.
9th June to 13th July 4-4-2 (4.0%) Series name to be decided
The World Cup beer is made using ten different hop varieties in the boil.
28th July to 31st August Brilliant Ale (4.0%) Heritage
A traditional bitter made with 100% pale malt and East Kent Golding hops.
18th August to 14th September Queen Court Harvest Ale (4.5%) Discovery
This is a refreshing and malty golden ale with medium bitterness.
1st September to 31st December Late Red (4.5%) Seasonal
The company’s Autumn beer; it is made with Crystal malt and Kentish Cascade hops.
6th October to 2nd November Spook’s Ale (4.7%) Series name to be decided
This Halloween ale has a roasted malt taste with medium bitterness.
3rd November to 30th November Double Stout (4.0%) Heritage
This stout is in the dry style.
1st December to 31st December Rudolph’s Reward (3.7%) Series name to be decided
Until 2013 this was brewed for pubcos. Now with a new recipe, it’s a true Christmas Ale with a spicy finish.
17th November to 31st December Christmas Ale (5.0%) Heritage
A light coloured yet very full-bodied beer.
In addition to these there will be another Green Hop Ale. I understand it will be called Tallyman’s Special, as last year, and will again be 4.5%. I would think it will available from mid September to mid October.
I hope this helps.
CAMRA Brewery Liaison Officer for Shepherd Neame