Adnams are an independent, family brewery, based in Southwold, Suffolk, East Anglia; Southwold is a charming sea-side town. The brewery was founded in 1872, although brewing on the site has been traced back as far as 1396. They supply their cask ales to all seventy of their own pubs, but they’re widely available throughout the south-east of England, and in bottles across theUK.
While they’re successful in their own right, Adnams have recently opened their own ‘craft’ brewery under the resurrected ‘Jack’ brand – named from a figure in a local church. Several larger brewers are now doing this, not least ‘Meantime’ in Greenwich, ‘Oakham’ with their ‘Oakademy’ and (not least) ‘Thornbridge’ in Bakewell.
It’s a neat trick for brewers that are expanding, retain their old kit and use it to brew experimental brews while the new larger plant brews the ‘regular’ beers.
The first thing you notice about ‘Innovation’ is the label, or rather the absence of label, information is painted on the bottle – an idea inspired by the discovery of old painted bottles in the Adnams brewery cellars. The design dates back to 1912 and shows the aforementioned ‘Southwold Jack’.
But, of course it’s about the beer; this pours a peachy colour with a sparse head. The nose is, well, disappointing, hints of bread and a few hops – this doesn’t bode well.
I was wrong! The flavour is rich and hoppy, some pineapple accompanying the (almost inevitable) grapefruit; somehow this reminds me of Sam Adams ‘Noble Pils’. While Sam Adams uses the five ‘noble’ European hops, this uses Boadicea, Columbus and Styrian Goldings. I confess Boadicea was a new hop to me, but it turns out it was first ‘bred’ in 2004 as an aphid (greenfly) resistant variety, it obviously tastes better to me than it does to the greenfly.
I’ve noticed lately that a number of large breweries have tried brewing ‘American Pale Ales’ – Shepherd Neame’s attempt was, IMHO, woeful, but this is one of the better attempts. It’s a good pale ale with an interesting blend of hops that bodes well for the new brewery/brand. I’ll certainly keep an eye out for ‘Jack’ on the shelves.
Either way it’s a refreshing blend, and at 6.7% ABV it’s deceptively dangerous on a hot summer’s day.
The label reads ‘flavoursome’ and I can’t disagree; I’ll happily give it 3½ stars.