Name – Red Shield
Brewer – Worthington's
Classification – Burton Blond Ale
Strength – 4.2% ABV
Verdict - At A Glance
On the eye – In hair-salon terms, this is 'strawberry' blond.
On the nose – An all fronts attack from malt and hops. A far darker aroma than the beer's appearance would suggest.
On the tongue – Soft, elegant citrus and floral tones hover above a well pitched malt base. Highly refined.
On the subject – The Worthington's name - rejuvenated over recent years courtesy of the now legendary 'White Shield' is part if the Molson Coors stable these days. One benefit of having big corporate parents is that you get shiny new toys to play with, such as the purpose built 'William Worthington's Brewery' - a recently constructed state-of-the-art facility.
On the market – Not at all common. Specialist outlets only for this one. Try online at Beer Here.
On the whole – 8/10
Above and beyond the more rudimentary effects of alcohol - some beers really do mess with your head.
This is one of those beers.
From the word 'go', it point blank refuses to conform to any normal standards of characterisation, classification, or type. Drinking it could therefore be a pretty frustrating experience (especially for someone attempting to write a review about it) but the reality is that this ale is just far too pleasant to leave anyone with any lasting, troublesome concerns.
But what are we really dealing with here?
It's not a golden ale - it's too smooth and balanced. It's not a bitter, a pale or even an amber ale - the colouring is too unique and the zest of all those tree fruits is just too poised, nuanced and refined. So, the claim of 'blond' status is probably the best hole for this pigeon, but I'm not entirely sure that it does this drink proper justice.
There's a sense of reserved excellence - perhaps even chic - to this brew. It doesn't force itself upon the mouth (though I was more than happy to force it upon my own mouth) but it chooses instead to win the hearts and minds of your taste buds, taking things at whatever leisurely pace is required to properly achieve this.
It has a modest elegance, an understated nobility, and a potential for thirst slaying which is nothing short of scary.
But there is a very skilfully judged malt base to this beer, which keeps it's overall appeal broad, and it's character vivid.
To be clear - Worthington's don't actually claim that this is a blond ale.
They claim that it's a 'Burton' blond ale.
So perhaps - as can so often be the case - it is the hallowed turf of this small area of central England which makes the difference.
And what a huge difference that is.