Scott and I have reviewed a number of brews from St Peter’s Brewery in the past. Scott’s first review, of their ‘Winter Ale’, some three years ago stimulated almost as much discussion about the Brewery’s distinctive bottle as the beer.
Over the past few years St. Peter’s have widened their range of brews, and added extra brewing capacity. Now, for the first time they have turned their attention to lager, but something different; an ‘English Lager’.
I’d read their press releases and was pleasantly surprised when I returned home one day to find I’d had a visit from the beer pixies!
So what, I hear you wonder, is an ‘English Lager’?
Well in the bad old days of the nineteen sixties – before the creation of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), British breweries were compromising their brews, creating tasteless ‘keg’ beers that were almost indistinguishable from each other. This also being the ‘swinging sixties’ they were keen to brew something that would appeal to the ‘younger generation’.
So, they started brewing Lager, often giving them exotic foreign sounding names, or licensing the names of European brews to add some cachet to the brews. Carling Black Label, Heineken and Hofmeister started to appear in pubs, supported by massive advertising campaigns.
The top two best-selling beers in the UK are still Carling Black Label and Fosters Lager. It’s only the last twenty years or so that authentic European lagers such as Becks, Staropramen, Budweiser Budvar have been available. Heineken withdrew their license to brew in the UK and as I’ve reported in the past, Heineken is now available as an import, and is regaining the reputation it deserves.
St Peter’s English Lager, brewed to a relatively strong 5.2% ABV is entering a market crowded with premium brews already tailored to the English Palate; including Kronenbourg 1664, Stella Artois (both brewed in the UK under license) and the aforementioned imports.
It pours a rich golden colour, with a healthy foaming head. There isn’t too much nose, but that’s not unexpected. The head is resilient, leaving a rich lacing down the glass as it goes. At 5.2% ABV it goes perhaps a little faster than it should, but in a climate where beers are having their alcohol content reduced to reduce duty, it’s (no pun intended) a refreshing change.
What really hits you, from the very first sip, is the flavour. It’s not subtle, light or floral, but it’s rich, full-bodied with Hallertau and Styrian Golding hops supporting a pale lager malt. I tried a chilled glass, and another at room temperature and both were equally satisfying.
I would happily drink this if I saw it in a bar; indeed I would choose this in preference over any of the ‘brewed under license’ lagers that are usually available. It has an honesty, it doesn’t pretend to be anything that it isn’t it’s a lager brewed in England, for the English palate.
And that works for me.