I’ll say from the outset, I’m sceptical about ‘celebrity’ beers. A few years ago, here at The Brewclub, I tried a couple of brews devised by Sharps with celebrity chef Rick Stein and was unimpressed, as you can read here.
More recently, here in Blighty we’ve had more celebrity chefs working with brewers, and some rockers have gotten in on the act. For example, Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden has collaborated with Manchester brewers Robinsons (brewers of ’Old Tom’) to create ‘Trooper’ a 4.7% Pale Ale, and Robinsons have also collaborated with the band Elbow to create ‘Build a Rocket Boys’ a 4% Golden Ale.
I’ll try and get round to those sometime soon, but for now I’ll focus on the Thornbridge Summer Ale produced in conjunction with the Sheffield band ‘Reverend and the Makers’. Not because I’m a particular fan of the band (I’m more of a Springsteen/Southside Johnny fan) but because it’s brewed by Thornbridge, and I love their brews. And the video for the Reverend’s first single ‘Heavyweight ‘Champion of the World’ was largely set in a pub, so there’s some synergy there.
I also met one of the Thornbridge BrewMasters at the British Guild of Beer Writers 25th Anniversary Bash (it’s always nice to meet your heroes) and he told me that Ed Cosens from the band was very hands on during the brewing process, and now he’s a regular in their brewhouse.
It pours a very pale gold, with a luxurious white head (check out the official Thornbridge glass), the nose is very distinctive, grass, citrus fruit and pine! I think I could pick this one out just by the nose, and that’s unusual in this day and age.
The flavour is both mellow and hoppy at the same time; the label suggests that the brew includes Cascade, Amarillo, Galaxy and Fuggles hops and I suspect that the inclusion of Fuggles has given this brew a good balance.
There’s pepper and pine, alongside citrus, with Fuggles mellowness balancing the more astringent Australian and American hop varieties.
Looking back at my notebook, I wrote ‘delightful and moreish’ and indeed the label suggests ‘moreish’. I can’t argue.
This simply has to be another four stars from Thornbridge.
Oh, and there’s a mini-documentary about the brewing of the ale here:
Mind you, Paul Heaton, the songwriter and vocalist with ‘The Housemartins’ and ‘The Beautiful South’ has gone one better and saved his local pub – ‘The Kings Arms’ in Stockport. And I must admit that having visited it, it’s a pub that was worth saving, with an eclectic juke-box!
I digress, all in all, with this and brews like Scarlet Macaw and Citra from Oakham, my beer fridge is brimming with excellent summer brews, and thankfully we’ve been enjoying a rare ‘barbecue summer’ here in Blighty to enjoy them in.
What’s been your stand-out brew of the summer?