Shepherd Neame Amber Ale

18 01 2011

Amber Ale is a 4.0%  seasonal ale from the  Shepherd Neame brewery in Faversham, Kent.

The Beer was launched in early 2009 as a winter warmer and has been available in January and February in 2010 and again in 2011.

Amber Ale is available as a cask ale however the two pints I had most recently were bought bottled as part of the Lidl Beer Festival which just seems to be an excuse to shift a whole bunch of Shepherd Neame beers as the other choices were Bishop’s Finger, Spitfire, 4-4-2 and Autumn Blaze – not that I am going to complain at €1.49 a bottle!

As the name would suggest Amber Ale pours to a very clear coppery/amber colour with a very thin white head that vanishes away rather quickly. Within a minute or two of the beer being poured there is very little if any visible sign of carbonation suggesting that it might be quite soft in that regard.

The main aromas from the beer are citrus, some fruitiness and hops, LOTS of hops, I found this a little odd as a I would expect a beer billed as being a winter warmer to have a bit more richness to it, maybe a bit more sweetness and perhaps even a touch of spice…

The taste of the beer followed on pretty closely from what I could smell; there was quite a bit of citrus and some fruit – possibly apples married with a big hit of fragrant hops.

There is supposed to be a blend of pale, crystal and brown malts added which I would have thought would add a certain depth and richness to the beer but I have to say I only picked up the slightest hint of malt whatsoever.

The body is rather on the light side and matches the ABV which is a little on the low side for this particular style of beer which more often comes in over the 5% mark.

I didn’t find that this beer put me much in mind of a winter warmer, it just seemed a little too light and lacking in flavour and could have used quite a bit more malt to balance out the hopping. That said I did actually quite like it, I could easily imagine myself enjoying several pints in a sunny beer garden.

3.8/5

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Hot Smoked Chipotle Oil…More like fail sauce

14 07 2010

Anyone that has read any of my recipes or listened to me wax lyrical about various different hot sauces etc will know that I have a little bit of an obsession with chillies  and all things hot and spicy.

As such you can imagine my interest when I saw bottles of Hot Smoked Chipotle Oil on special offer at the local supermarket (a Lidl for anyone that cares!)

I’m not normally an impulse buyer but in this case it had two very strong selling points

a. it was a chilli oil

 b. it was cheap (€1.49 to be exact)

So I picked up a bottle and said to my girlfriend that if I liked the oil I would be back for more (you can never have too much chilli oil after all)

Well it was vile.

I’m not over reacting when I say that it just simply was one of the worst things I have ever tasted.

For starters there was no heat at all, we are talking a big fat 0 on the scoville scale – not a good start for a chilli oil. To test the fact that there was no kick to the oil I called my girlfriend into the kitchen and insisted that she try some of the oil on  a little bit of bread.

Now my partner can’t handle any heat at all in foods and is somewhat wary of things that I get her to taste (it has something to do with some Naga chillies that she didn’t appreciate) but even she remarked that there was no heat at all and this is from a woman who finds black pepper to be practically atomic!

Next there was the actual taste of the oil; not only was there no heat there was no taste of chillies. I know some people who don’t like chillies will tell you that none of them have any taste, well they do, especially something like a chipotle which should have a nice fruity smokey taste to it.

The only taste that this oil had was a vague burnt taste, certainly not smokey more like the taste you get in the back of your throat when someone is burning something they shouldn’t like plastic bags or tyres…not what you want to put on your food.

I think possibly the worst thing about it though was the sheer greasiness of it, I realise it sounds nuts describing an oil as being oily or greasy but it was! The oil they had used was sunflower oil and it just felt really really greasy.

I make chilli oils myself as they are something that I like to use to give a bit of oomph or sneak in some illicit chilli flavour  but I always use a good olive oil for mine and I can really see why now.

Luckily though Lidl did manage to redeem themselves by having the Nando’s Piri Piri sauce in stock at roughly the same price…








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