Name – Beacon
Brewer – Everards
Classification – Bitter
Strength – 3.8% ABV
Verdict - At A Glance
On the eye – Rich, vibrant amber. (It matches the colour of its own label, which is rather novel!)
On the nose – Freshly baked farmhouse loaves, and a soft twang of steamed plums.
On the tongue – Crisp complexity from the hops and soothing pine nuts from the malt.
On the subject – A moving, sorrowful tale of sibling rivalry. (Maybe you'd better read on...)
On the market – As opposed to cask Beacon, I'm reliably informed that the bottled version of this beer is currently only available at Morrison's supermarkets. Yes... I'm afraid the news really is that distressing. (Angry letters to the brewery, please, not to me!)
On the whole – 8/10
I couldn't help feeling just a little bit sorry for Beacon.
Not so very long ago, its stable mate – Everards 'Original' – shot to the top of The Bottled Beer Year chart, after comprehensively sweeping me off my feet and winning my heart forever. Few beers will ever make that kind of impact in one short lifetime – never mind in a single year.
So, it was always going to be something of a thankless task for poor Beacon to have to follow that.
But the question in the back of my mind was not – 'is this next Everards beer going to outdo the Original?' – that would be setting it up for something of a fall. No, I was more interested in how close this second beer would come to offering any kind of serious competition at all.
Well, to Beacon's great credit, it actually competes in pretty fine style. Which would seem to imply that Everards didn't create their 'Original' by accident.
One of the tricks up Beacon's sleeve, is that it is a very different beast from its darker, richer, premium strength cousin.
Lighter in body and in appearance, this is a sharper, more bitter, hop dominant experience – which is underscored by a lovely, soft, nutty base courtesy of the single Maris Otter malt.
In contrast to the solitary malt, three varieties of hop have been combined to create that sharpness, making the classification of 'bitter' sit very comfortably.
There are further flavour themes incorporated into the mix – buttercream and grapefruit being the most distinct – and all of the additional flavours are subtle and tantalising enough to keep you reaching in excited curiosity for more.
When all is said and done – this is an exemplary session bitter.
Were it not so closely related to a beer of intergalactic prowess, this ale would be worthy of 'top dog' status at almost any brewery in Britain.