Name – Britannia Cream Ale
Brewer – Spire
Classification – Strong Amber Ale
Strength – 6.4% ABV
Verdict - At A Glance
On the eye – Gorgeous shades of yellow and gold, ruined almost entirely by copious amounts of floating yeast. I tire of this subject almost as much as it tires of me...
On the nose – Thickly buttered hot cross buns. Toasted, of course.
On the tongue – Fresh ginger and pink grapefruit. In a cake.
On the subject – Chesterfield's Spire Brewery is the brainchild of David McLaren. As a former secondary school teacher - he will have NONE OF YOUR BACKCHAT about his beers.
On the market – Local suppliers score an A+, but non local suppliers all get detention! Mine was supplied by The Real Ale Store (who totally loves 'Sir' and always brings him an apple)
On the whole – 8/10
On the whole – 8/10
If you'd just been through what I've been through, you'd realise just how hard it is to know where to begin.
From the very first sip, this crafty little beast had me all brow-furrowed and head-scratching and, if I'm entirely honest, I'm still pretty bewildered by what I just experienced.
Before I go any further, let me quickly establish that this is a beer that needs to be taken very seriously.
It is, in other words, a very serious beer.
It's a serious beer, and I've been left with little reason to doubt that it's probably also quite an excellent beer.
But I couldn't be absolutely certain of that, or of anything else in relation to this brew because - boy oh boy - is it enigmatic!
It simply refuses to fall neatly – if at all – into any of the usual beer categories, and the brewery's claim that it is a 'cream ale' is certainly one that I'm in no great hurry to embrace.
For sure, there are cream-like aspects to the beer, particularly in terms of the sumptuous buttery fragrance and that huge Hagen Dazs head which billows forth impatiently regardless of how fast you pour.
But a long time before I would have thought of picking out 'creaminess' as this beer's overriding defining quality, I would surely have opted for one of the clearly more dominant properties such as its highly hopped 'kick' or its richly complex finish, or I'd have focused onto its unrelenting citrus appeal.
Mind you, its not as though any of this matters after a few mouthfuls, because at an insidiously deceptive 6.4%, this ale soon renders most Earthly matters devoid of any real significance.
But then again, at 6.4%, I probably shouldn't be craving several more of these – but the awful, terrifying truth is that I am, and it wouldn't be fair on the beer not to confess that.
To be even more fair, though, I also have to confess that my craving is not necessarily due to an intense love which has developed for this ale. The feeling I have is more akin to an investigators obsession with a case he can't yet solve, such is the tremendous sense of intrigue behind this beer and its devilishly elusive character.