Name – Sovereign
Brewer – Royal Tunbridge Wells
Classification – Blonde ale
Strength – 3.8% ABV
Verdict - At A Glance
On the eye – Warm straw gold.
On the nose – An aggressive citrus kick from the hops proceeds a gentle toffee caress from the malt. By no means unlovely.
On the tongue – High impact citrus, high impact bitterness, high impact wonderfulness. A very impressive lower strength beer.
On the subject – The Royal Tunbridge Wells Brewing Company's manifesto states that they are “...responding to the rise in demand from the discerning beer drinkers of Kent and beyond.” All I can say is, the discerning beer drinkers of Kent must be pretty darn demanding if this brewery's ales are the response. Quite simply, these are uncommonly good beers.
On the market – From the aforementioned phrase '...drinkers of Kent and beyond', I'd say there's still a fair bit of work to be done on behalf of those drinkers living on the 'beyond' side of things, but I'd also say that it's only a matter of time before these bottles are springing up everywhere. Whilst you're waiting, try online at Master Of Malt.
On the whole – 8.5/10
On the whole – 8.5/10
The British microbrewery scene is in such excellent health right now, I almost feel inclined to do excitement-fuelled cartwheels all the way to the pub and back.
On reflection, though, I'm not at all certain that the British microbrewery scene would want to see me hospitalised indefinitely on it's behalf, so I reckon I'll just remain motionless and express my strong feelings of joyous pride with the aid of carefully chosen words rather than poorly executed gymnastics.
Don't be too disappointed.
Today's beer is merely the latest in an ever extending line of top-notch, innovative, dynamic beers from young, small-scale companies spread across the country who are consistently pushing the major players into the shade with their artistry and craftsmanship.
Sovereign is a crisp, refreshing, high citrus gem, with that same invigorating sense of 'something new and different' which radiates from so many of these modern creations.
Most notable about this ale, is the manner in which it utterly disregards it's own alcoholic content, blasting you with an intensity of flavour and a rich complexity that leaves you staring in bewilderment at those low numbers on the label.
It's impact is quite incredible for a 3.8% beer, and it's crammed full of surprises – not least in the sublime finish, which swerves this way and that between an almost electrically-charged gooseberry note, to soft swathes of fresh buttermilk. This feature alone is stupendously delicious.
I cracked the first of my three Sovereign's a couple of months ago after they'd been delivered to me at London's Theatre Royal Haymarket (where I was being forced to thrill record-breaking audiences half to death with my comic acting skills at the time) and I was kind-hearted enough to share (microscopic) amounts of the beer with some of my fellow cast mates. Their reactions to it were quite dramatic. This was partly because some of them were non beer drinkers who were experiencing 'real ale' for the very first time and finding it nothing like what they had been led to expect, and partly because they were all actors – so everything they do is 'quite dramatic'.
It was at this point that I first began to see why the recent hop revolution had been such a huge hit. Aside from being quite lovely, all these hop dominant ultra-citrus ales are a giant leap away from 'beer' (as perceived by the unacquainted) towards a whole bunch of other types of widely enjoyed beverages. Wine drinkers, cocktail drinkers, cider drinkers and even juice drinkers (and who isn't one of those!) suddenly have a bunch of beers within which they can find something familiar.
“I'd actually drink this again”, was the response of one of the more stunned cast members, renowned for her fondness of vodka and tonic. I could only smile knowingly at her like a smug git, in spite of all my efforts not to.
Of these new golden greats, Royal Tunbridge Wells' Soveriegn is the perfect representative.
It's certainly one to confidently offer to the proud non beer drinker in your midsts.
And among it's more immediate rivals in the 'under 4' category – this really is a stand out brew.