Greene King Strong Suffolk Vintage Ale

30 04 2010

Strong Suffolk is one of the many  offerings from thriving Bury St Edmunds based brewers, Greene King.

At 6% it is the strongest of the beers in their range and as the label states it is a vintage ale (old ale).

Here is how Greene King describe Strong Suffolk:

A blend of two ales: Old 5X , which is brewed to the maximum strength possible (around 12% abv) and left to mature in 100-barrel oak vats for a minimum of two years, and BPA, a dark, full-bodied freshly brewed beer which is added just before bottling. The result is a unique beer – strong (6% abv), dark, fruity, oaky and very, very special.”

The fact that this is a blend of what by themselves are both very fine beers should really start to set the scene that this really is a top notch drink.

Due to the size of Greene King it is quite easy to find Strong Suffolk available as a bottled  beer in any number of supermarkets and off licenses throughout the UK and abroad, however if you are lucky enough to find it on draught than that is even more of a treat.

I had previously never seen Strong Suffolk on tap outside of  Bury St Edmunds and the surrounding area (for a while I worked at the Greene King brewery in the town) However I have recently seen it on the ramp at a couple of Wetherspoons in London and Oxford; Wetherspoons always seem to have a large offering of Greene King beers with the usual culprits of Abbot Ale and IPA near enough always in residence.

&The bottle features the instantly recognisable  Greene King Logo reminding us that they have been in the business of making beer since way back in 1799, the main image is of one the aforementioned oak vats being paid a visit by the brewmaster. 

You can also find the vintage of the beer on the label, in this particular case a 2001 When poured it is a very clear dark brown colour with a slightly reddish tint to it, there isn’t really much of a head and it is only very very lightly carbonated so in that regards is very much like a traditional draught beer.

The first thing you will notice from this beer is that there isn’t really much of an aroma to it but the flavour is certainly there! It is a very fruity yet savoury beer with flavours of oak, malt, old sherry, banana and an almost leathery taste, the flavours develop as you are drinking it and there is a strong bitter /  sweet taste with the bitterness proving to be very refreshing and remaining for quite a while afterwards

This is a beer that really packs a punch, both in terms of flavour and strength, at 6.0% A.B.V you wouldn’t want to have too many in one sitting! It is big and full bodied and goes really well with food, particularly traditional hearty British favourites such as a good strong cheddar or some nice roast beef.

Overall there is nothing disappointing about a pint of Strong Suffolk and it is a rewarding beer that will become a firm favourite.

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Brakspear Triple

29 04 2010

As it is a first I decided to kick things off with one of my absolute favourites, Brakspear Triple.

Brakspear Triple

This is a superb beer from Oxford based brewer Brakspear who survive today as part of Marstons. Triple is only available as a bottle conditioned beer, however this helps rather than hinders this particular gem. Brakspear describe this beer as being for the ultimate connoisseur and they aren’t lying! Each bottle is individually numbered and if like me you have no life you can go to the Brakspear website and see when your beer was brewed. It takes it name from the fact that is a triple fermented beer and is also triple hopped. Basically this means that the beer itself undergoes 3 separate fermentations, twice during the double-drop fermentation used at the brewery and once more in the bottle. Hops are added three times during the brewing process and this along with the choice of malts; Crystal, Black and Maris Otter pale, mean that there is a really good balance between the beer being aromatic and bitter and also gives a real richness. This isn’t a beer that you would be quaffing as part of a session, firstly it is to my mind a little bit too good to be thrown back and needs to be savoured and enjoyed. Secondly this beer is strong, we are talking 7.2% ABV! Taken by itself this figure might not mean much but to put it into context Brakspear’s regular on tap bitter is 3.4% on draught. It is a serious beer. It is a wonderful reddish/amber coloured beer with a small cream coloured head that collapses to be even smaller. I prefer to try and get all the sediment into the glass when I have a bottle conditioned beer as I find you get far more flavour, if you don’t want bits in the glass you can just be more careful when you pour The smell of beer is very strong and pungent with a malty and almost biscuity smell, not unpleasant at all, in fact very inviting. Brakspear Triple is an absolute delight to drink; it very full bodied with no real wateriness, it is slightly sweet but not cloyingly so and there is a nice bitter aftertaste but again not too much.It is very warming and yet for such a strong beer it has a surprising delicacy about it that makes it very easy to drink. I find Brakspear Triple to be a beer that can be enjoyed more or less anytime, I have drunk it as winter warmer after a long cold day at work, but equally I have enjoyed in the garden in the middle of summer with a nice ploughmans 4.8 / 5








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