As sometimes happens at The Brew Club, I was recently contacted by the good folks who promote Newcastle asking if I’d like to sample the Newcastle Summer Ale. Never one to turn down beer, I agreed to the sample and the following is my review.
I’ll admit to being slightly apprehensive about this beer. If you recall, I didn’t really care for the “Newkie Brown” which is what many people call the famous Newcastle Brown Ale. I actually gave the beer one star, and remarks in the comments included such niceties as “Flat dish water like taste with no other depth” and “I found it to be thin, watery and flat. There are much better brown ales out there.”
Granted, there was a lot of support for Newkie Brown in the comments as well, but the beer in the clear glass bottle was a total flop for me.
So, will the Newcastle Summer Ale redeem the name in my eyes? Well, for starters the Summer Ale comes in a brown glass bottle as opposed to the clear glass bottle of the Newcastle Brown Ale. Some of the criticisms of the Newkie Brown was some skunkiness that people picked up, and we all know that beer in clear glass is most easily lightstruck which leads to the dreaded skunked beer. Being in a brown bottle is an immediate plus for the Summer Ale.
Newcastle Summer Ale is the first seasonal beer from the Newcastle people. Its only available in certain limited American markets this year from July to September. Its a 4.4% ABV beer, and information regarding the style is somewhat hard to come by. Beer Advocate seems to think its an English Bitter – I’m not so sure, and even still, how is this a Summer Ale anyway?
The beer is a golden color, very clear and produces a nice white head. There was a bit of lacing, and it ended up sticking to the glass the entire way down. Hmm.
The aroma was less impressive, and it really reminded me of grain or corn. Nothing much going on here.
The PR page indicates that Newkie Summer “…blends Fuggles and Super Styrian Goldings Hops, with Fuggles offering a mild hoppy taste with a light bitter flavor and Styrian creating a soft aroma. The fusion of a light crisp taste with a hint of bitter offers a refreshing companion beverage to complement summer dishes and social occasions.”
Soft aroma, yes, and despite the glowing text above, I’d say the flavors are mostly washed out and muddled into something that reminds me of both the original Newkie Brown, and the Dundee Honey Brown. As Homer Simpson might say – “Booooooringgg.” There is a bit of bitterness in the taste, but I’m not really picking up any hops at all even though the label proudly announces ‘Hops and Glory’. I’m thinking this is more of a brown ale light (in color) here, and not a traditional English bitter.
So, I’m not sure what to make of this beer. It isn’t a Summer Ale as I’ve come to expect. It isn’t really refreshing, its not spicy, its not bubbly, its just a plainish beer with a summery label on it. At least it isn’t skunky or metallic tasting like its more famous brother can be, but its not going to be something I reach for next summer.
What about you? Ever try the hard-to-find Newcastle Summer Ale? Whatcha think of it?