If you believe the hype, over three billion people follow the Tour de France cycle race on TV. I confess I’m sceptical but it’s an oft quoted statistic. Three billion is nearly half the world’s population and I simply can’t imagine that a cycle race around France has a dedicated TV following in China, India, the United States or much of Africa; so maybe the promoters track individual views across Europe and count each view as a new viewer.
Please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong in my assumptions.
Either way, the summer of 2014 marked the second occasion when this punishing cycle race visited the UK, with some 350 miles of road racing over three days, starting in York, passing within ten miles of my home in Essex, before finishing in Central London.
The hype around the Tour de France was astonishing, and a number of ‘events’ were arranged, including “L’Eroica Brittania” a three day ‘cycle and vintage style’ festival through the Peak District National Park, headquartered in Bakewell, the home of the Thornbridge brewery.
L’Eroica is restricted to ‘heroic’ racing cycles, defined as those built before 1987, with gear shifts on the down-tube. It makes me nostalgic for my old 1970’s, 5 speed, ‘Carlton Clubman’ cycle.
What better excuse for a brewer to brew a special beer, particularly if they’re one of the event sponsors?
L’Eroica beer was described by Thornbridge as “A crisp and refreshing pale ale that provides a great showcase of aromatic English hops.”
It pours a beautiful pale gold, with a full, pure white head. The nose is resinous, hints of pine and caramel in there, little or no citrus. Old school.
The flavour is much the same, old school, but not dark and heavy. It’s light and grassy with underlying caramel biscuit and delicate hop flavours – Challenger, Fuggles and Bramling Cross. .
All in all it’s a crisp, pale ale that is refreshing in that it revels in more traditional English hops, rather than more exotic modern hops. This is for those who are alienated by floral noses and enamel stripping citrus hops. And there’s nothing wrong with that; as a beer it does what it sets out to, and in accordance with The Brewclub’s patented beer rating system that merits it three stars, maybe three and a half.
A good beer, but not quite a great beer; although at 4.3% ABV it might possibly be a great session beer.