Here are two siblings I picked up recently, Adnams Broadside Original Ale and Adnams Suffolk Strong Bitter. This first was $2.99 USD at the Party Source, the second $3.25 CND at the LCBO. With taxes and custom costs, the first likely cost at least $5.00 CND. The cost of research.
The brewery says of itself:
Discerning drinkers have been enjoying the superb taste of Adnams beers since 1872. Brewed in the Suffolk coastal town of Southwold, they owe their unique flavour to the finest East Anglian barley, old-fashioned English hop varieties and famous Adnams yeast.It also says it sells wine and owns two hotels, part of the unending job of old brewers to diversify to stay alive that you can read about in excellent recent histories of the British brewing scene like Man Walks into a Pub by Pete Brown or Martyn Cornell's Beer: The Story of the Pint - both books highly recommended by the way.
- Broadside Original Ale: In Michael Jackson's Great Beer Guide, my paperback copy published in 2000, this beer is called Broadside Strong Ale and at 6.0% that is a reasonable claim. He says it is:
...an amber-red string ale with a rocky head; firm, remarkably smooth body; mellow, nutty malt flavours; a cherrylike finish, enough lingering dryness to make the drinking thirst for anotherI find Jackson's descriptions a bit ripe and too blandly positive sometimes - and a wee bit generic...but it is a difficult thing to describe taste in words and, even though this review appears on page 11 of his 542 page book, you can imagine that the adjective have to be allocated somewhat judiciously throughout a text reviewing 500 brews to ensure each of the 500 get a favourable touch, equally distributing the concept of "great".
My existence is not so restricted as I am not bound by such convention. The first thing I encountered was a big creamy orange malty wave. Not unlike a Terry's chocolate orange was my immediate impression. The hops goldings can be manipulated by the brewer to create a real rich orange juice tone in an ale. This matches well with the hefty use of dark crystal malt which gives raisiny and butter tastes. This is a big blanket of a beer - comforting, warming, even supporting your excuses for unfortunate lifestyle decisions in your past. It is a soft ale with a big body, with a suggestion of the tang old ale under the rich, slightly leathery patina. Patina like that rich dark stuff on old furniture that builds up in the crevices. A great comparator would be Charles Wells Bombardier which I have described as sitting at the place where pale ale and old ale meet. The same is true for Broadside. The Advocators approve.
- Adnams Suffolk Strong Bitter: This ale has a bit of rustic edge, more bitter than flowery, more malty than herbal. Just going from notes, it is more in the nature of Black Sheep Ale or Cooperstown Back Yard India Pale Ale. Under that roughness in this case there is also some orange as well as raisin, some of the same flavours in the Broadside in a lighter version. This is not, however, a light bodied beer by any respect. Even at 4.5% it is a mouthful. The brewery says it is:
refreshing beer of real flavour, SSB is distinctively hoppy and deliciously dry - perfect served cool.It does have a very dry end, slightly astringent. Michael Jackson says in his Great Beer Guide that it has "a firm, dry biscuity, malt background" and notes that the main hop is Fuggles. I don't get the biscuity on this beer but the rest rings true. If there is a biscuit in there is just as likely to call it raisin bread. Taste is a funny thing and different people combine elements to create different analogies. For me, if there is raisin due to dark crystal malt, that is an important note to note. BAers approve. One uses a great word that is spot on with this certain type of hop bitterness: chewy.