Shepherd Neame Tasting Notes

Shepherd Neame. A brewery that proudly wears the tag of Britain’s oldest brewery, having been founded in 1698, and still run by the long-standing family to this day.

So how did this relationship start? (1) Well records show that the town of Faversham in Kent was first associated with brewing as early as 1147 when monks at the abbey, one-third of a mile from the brewery today at 17 Court Street, produced beer. In 1525 William Castlock, the brother of the last abbot of Faversham, was exporting and importing beer. The brewing operation remained within the Castlock family before being passed to Thomas Hilton in 1653.

The Range of Shepherd Neame Ales

In 1678, Richard Marsh, one-time Faversham mayor, leased the brewery from the Hilton family, before buying it from the family’s executors in 1698. Marsh died in 1726 but the brewery continued under his daughter in-law Mary and her new husband, a Mr Hilles Hobday. By the time Hilles Hobday died in 1731, the brewery owned two Faversham pubs, The Castle and The Three Tuns (the latter is still part of the brewery’s pub estate). In 1732, Mary married Samuel Shepherd who took over the running of the brewery, introducing a new era of growth, which included the acquisition of 21 pubs, five of which remain with Shepherd Neame.
The brewery passed to Shepherd’s sons, John and Julius, in 1755. John would eventually withdraw, while Julius continued to develop his father’s entrepreneurial flair. Julius was succeeded by his son Henry in 1819 who ran the brewery for the next 25 years. Upon his retirement, it passed to Henry Jr and his son-in-law, Charles Jones Hilton, but Hilton withdrew four years later and Henry Jr took on John Henry Mares as his partner.

In October 1864 Percy Beale Neame, a 28-year-old hop farmer and brother-in-law of John Mares, joined the firm as a partner, only two months before Mares’ death. It was here that Shepherd Neame & Company was born. Henry Jr died in 1876, leaving Percy Neame the sole proprietor. He was joined by his sons, Harry, Arthur and Alick about 20 years later. Percy Beale Neame died in 1913. A year later Shepherd Neame became a limited company, with all of Percy’s children as the shareholders. Tragedy struck the family when, in 1916, Arthur died of pneumonia, to be followed by Alick only three months later. Harry became the sole managing director. The Second World War saw the brewery depleted of staff due to military service. Seventy-five were away by 1940, though production continued as beer was not rationed as it was regarded as a moraleboosting essential. Shepherd Neame was now largely managed by Harry’s sons, Jasper and Laurie. Harry died in 1947 and nine years later, Jasper’s eldest son Robert, known as Bobby, joined the company. In 1958 Shepherd Neame produced one of its most distinctive beers, Bishops Finger. The strong, typically Kentish ale was named, according to folklore, after a signpost that pointed the way to Thomas Becket’s tomb in Canterbury. Upon Jasper’s death in 1961, at the age of 56, Laurie became the sole MD.

In 1968 Shepherd Neame demonstrated the innovation for which it has become renowned when it became the first regional brewer of lager in the UK when it started brewing Hurlimann, eventually coming to own the popular brand. Laurie died in 1970 and Bobby became chairman, a position he held for 35 years. By the end of the decade the brewery had acquired 65 pubs in total and Bobby reported an eight-fold increase in profits. In 1990 Shepherd Neame produced Spitfire to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. Spitfire took off thanks, in part, to its cheeky Dads Armystyle humour. In 1991 Bobby’s son, Jonathan Neame, joined the company. He was appointed managing director in 1999, before becoming chief executive in 2003. Bobby Neame stepped down as chairman in 2005 – he was succeeded by Miles Templeman – and retired from the board a year later. He is now Shepherd Neame’s first company president. In 2004 the company undertook a major upgrade with the installation of a new keg plant and the opening of a new distribution centre. It followed that with a new cask packaging operation in 2007 and bottling line in 2009 respectively.

The Range of Shepherd Neame Ales

Steeped in history and tradition, Shepherd Neame is one of the most well-known breweries in the UK, especially around Kent, London and South East England.

I was lucky enough to sample some of their well know bottled ales recently, so I give to you my tasting notes and a brief history on each –

Christmas Ale – 7%

An instant nose of dried raisins with spice notes swirling gently around. Soft malt flavours linger gently on the palate, mixed with dry fruit to create a mourish flavour that has a slight dryness on after-taste. The experience falls very quickly, but the roasted chestnut will have you finishing the bottle.

1698 – 6.5%

Originally brewed to celebrate the tercentenary of Shepherd Neame and winner of a silver medal in the Taste of Britain Awards, included in the International Beer Challenge’s World’s Top 50 Beers and won a Gold Award from the British Bottlers’ Institute.
Ripe fruit flavours on the nose with citrus notes flying in later on. On the palate, it enjoys mild offerings of caramel and Seville orange that culminates in a slight dryness and a very short after-taste, but it does leave your mouth feeling fresh.

Late Red – 4.5%

The nose enjoys a good mix of caramel and tropical fruit with hints of dried fruit like raisin following closely. A hot, fresh hop finish contrasts well with the forerunner of caramel and nut leading to a lingering sweet fruitness.

Bishops Finger

Bishops Finger – 5.4%

Bishops Finger was the first strong ale to be brewed by Shepherd Neame after malt rationing was eased in the late 1950s. It is also one of the UK’s oldest bottled beers, brewed since 1958. It also hold EU Protected Geographical Indication, recognising its unique provenance. It is brewed to a charter which states it can only be brewed by the head brewer on a Friday and that it must be brewed using 100% natural ingredients, Kentish hops and barley, and the brewery’s own artesian mineral water.
Both the nose and palate enjoy lashings of ripe fruit and dried apricots with subtle hints of cinnamon and pepper thrown in to create a long-lasting refreshing ale. An orange finish results in a small dryness on the tongue.

Spitfire – 4.5%

First brewed in 1990 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Britain and won medals at 2009 Monde Selection Grand (gold) and 2010 Brewers Association World Beer Cup (bronze).
On the nose, swirls of red grapes, marmalade and cracked pepper dance around, whilst the palate enjoys slow flavours of malt with a soft fruity finish, a sense of delicate fizz is detected on the after-taste.

OTHER SHEPHERD NEAME EXPRESSIONS

Master Brew – 4%

Good kick of Kentish hops on the nose with malt and vanilla mixing well soon after. Lots of hops dominate the palate, with hints of malt lingering. Slight bitterness before a long finish.

With around 360 Shepherd Neame pubs in the UK, you will more than likely come across the wide range of ales in both bottle and cask form, with personal highlights of Spitfire and Christmas Ale being recommendations. I’ve also come across gift sets in local supermarkets of the Shepherd Neame range which would be a perfect present for any budding ale drinkers!

So if you’re looking for drink that is steeped in history, tradition and bursting in flavours, look out for the Shepherd Neame logo, you can’t go wrong.

(1) The history of Shepherd Neame reproduced from Shepherd Neame website.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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24 Days of Christmas Cocktails – Day 21

Todays cocktail involves one of the many flavours of the Stolichnaya vodka range, Blueberi.

Stoli Blueberi Fog

Day 21 – Stoli Blueberi Fog – Stolichnaya

Glass –

Martini Glass

Ingredients –

50ml Stolichnaya Blueberi
50ml Stolichnaya
25ml lemon juice
25ml simple syrup (or agave nectar)

Method –

Shake with ice and strain into a chilled Martini glass

 

Each day for the next 3 days their will be a different christmas cocktail added to the site, so sign yourself up to be the first to find out! Make sure you follow me on Twitter (and the hash tag #24daysofchristmascocktails) or Facebook for instant updates.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

24 Days of Christmas Cocktails – Day 20

Only 4 days to go till the end of the Drinks Enthusiast Christmas cocktail countdown, but Frangelico have got a cracking chocolate and nut offering for you to enjoy!

Frangelico Hazelnut Martini

Day 20 – Frangelico Hazelnut Martini – Frangelico

Glass –

Martini Glass

Ingredients –

75ml Frangelico
75ml Vodka
Cocoa powder for garnishing glass

Method –

Mix together Frangelico and vodka. Shake and serve in a Martini glass.

Garnished with a chocolate rim.

 

Each day for the next 4 days their will be a different christmas cocktail added to the site, so sign yourself up to be the first to find out! Make sure you follow me on Twitter (and the hash tag #24daysofchristmascocktails) or Facebook for instant updates.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

24 Days of Christmas Cocktails – Day 19

On the home stretch now! And to celebrate, Jim Beam have served up a rather simple punch that could even attract the ladies of the group!

Sparkling Ruby Punch

Day 19 – Sparkling Ruby Punch – Jim Beam

Glass –

Champagne Flute

Ingredients –

1-3/4 cups Jim Beam Bourbon
1 cup cranberry juice cocktail
1 bottle (750ml) sparkling raspberry juice, well chilled

Method –

Combine Jim Beam Bourbon and cranberry juice cocktail in a large pitcher. Chill at least 2 hours before serving. Just before serving, slowly pour in sparkling raspberry juice. Stir briefly and gently.

Makes 5 cups.

 

Each day for the next 6 days their will be a different christmas cocktail added to the site, so sign yourself up to be the first to find out! Make sure you follow me on Twitter (and the hash tag #24daysofchristmascocktails) or Facebook for instant updates.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

24 Days of Christmas Cocktails – Day 18

Todays cocktail has a frozen look about it as Eristoff vodka is our Day 18.

The Wolf Breeze

Day 18 – The Wolf Breeze – Eristoff

Glass –

Highball glass

Ingredients –

50ml Eristoff Vodka
100ml White Cranberry juice
100ml White Grapefruit juice

Method –

Shake all ingredients together and pour into ice filled highball glass.

Garnish with red berries.

Each day for the next 6 days their will be a different christmas cocktail added to the site, so sign yourself up to be the first to find out! Make sure you follow me on Twitter (and the hash tag #24daysofchristmascocktails) or Facebook for instant updates.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

24 Days of Christmas Cocktails – Day 17

Day 17 is another cocktail to warm the cockles using the relatively new Kraken Spiced Rum.

 

The Kraken Cider

Day 17 – The Kraken Cider – Kraken

Glass – 

Heat-proof  glass mug

Ingredients –

50ml Kraken Spiced Rum
125ml Hot Apple Cider

Method –

Build all ingredients into a heat-proof glass.

Garnish with cinnamon stick.

Each day for the next 7 days their will be a different christmas cocktail added to the site, so sign yourself up to be the first to find out! Make sure you follow me on Twitter (and the hash tag #24daysofchristmascocktails) or Facebook for instant updates.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

24 Days of Christmas Cocktails – Day 16

Day 16 uses the Italian spirit Campari to create a rather simple, yet dazzling in colour, cocktail to hand out to your party guests.

Campari Spritz

Day 16 – Campari Spritz – Campari

Glass –

Wine glass

Ingredients –

50ml Campari
25ml soda
75ml prosecco

Method –

Build all ingredients and pour into a wine glass full of ice.

Garnish with fresh pineapple.

Each day for the next 8 days their will be a different christmas cocktail added to the site, so sign yourself up to be the first to find out! Make sure you follow me on Twitter (and the hash tag #24daysofchristmascocktails) or Facebook for instant updates.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Liquorists Seasonal Spirits Trail

Last night was the final installment of the year in The Liquorists busy calendar, the seasonal spirits trail! Following the same concept of their Vodka trail last month, we were to be enjoying 5 different spirits, 5 different cocktails in 5 different bars accompanied by 5 different light bite appetizers. Sound daunting? Challenge accepted!

Pear & Cinnamon Martini at The Lowry

Starting the night in the 5* Lowry Hotel and The River Bar & Restaurant in Manchester’s Chapel Wharf, we gathered in the bar’s Library, a quietly tucked away part of the bar which is perfect for events like this. Barry, of Epernay fame, would be our host for the evening, and after a brief introduction, explained to us why we had a shot of Bacardi in front of us. Whilst guiding us through the history of this well know rum, Pear and Cinnamon Martini’s were handed out along with soft vanilla cheesecake.  No sooner had we finished the lychee in the bottom of the glass, we were hopping into a taxi to our next venue, Apotheca.

Southern Jam at Apotheca

Southern Comfort was the choice of spirit and one of my personal favourites dating back to my teenage years! Making our way to their basement bar with some fantastic canvases of the Manchester skyline, we enjoyed a shot of Southern Comfort with pieces of 80% dark cocoa that blended well, but became truly amazing with the cocktail ‘Southern Jam’, made with apricot jam, lemon juice, Chinese five-spice, cranberry juice and a double helping of Southern Comfort.

Long Winters Night at 24 Bar & Grill

 

 

24 Bar & Grill was the next port of call, with this stunning conversion of the previous namesake Obsidian, offering us the Dutch Ketel One Citron vodka to sip while their Christmas offering ‘Long Winters Night’ were being hand crafted for our pleasure. Lemon, cinnamon sugar syrup, cherry Cognac, Amaretto, sweet Vermouth and a dash of Bitters created a rather long and refreshing cocktail, all whilst munching on mince pies. From Barry’s homeland of Holland, to Cuba, Havana and their Barrell Proof was next to showcase themselves at Sandinista, with a Christmas classic Eggnog cocktail being served (mixed spice, cream, Havana Barrell Proof, sugar) while we munched on roasted chestnuts. All that was missing was a roaring fire! 

Eggnog at Sandinista

Our last bar for the night was in one of Manchester’s pop-up bars and venue to the winter ice-rink, The Moose Bar. The French orange liqueur Grand Marnier was sipped, while Grand Tommy cocktails were brought over to us amid pea and ham soup, ham hock terrine, pheasant and beef stew and sausage, crouton and cheese fondue. 

A great night was had, with a round of applause given to Barry by all  in attendance. And it truly was. My friend came with me last night as a fan from the last trail, and he’s now raring to go back to all 5 bars again, with The Moose Bar and Sandinista his highlights. As for me, I’m already looking forward to January as The Liquorists announced their rum trails, with bars including Keko Moku, Hula, MOJO Rhum Room, The Liars Club and Sandinista on offer! 
 
Check out The Liquorist’s website and Facebook page for more information and tickets.

Click on my Links page for links to all the bars and brands mentioned in this article

 

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

24 Days of Christmas Cocktails – Day 15

Nearly on the home stretch now, and we have Patrón tequila leading the way!

The Bell Tolls

Day 15 – The Bell Tolls – Patrón

Glass –

Rocks glass

Ingredients –

60ml Patrón Añejo
25ml herbal liqueur
50ml white grapefruit juice
15ml cane syrup

Method –

Combine all ingredients into an ice-filled shaker, shake and strain into a rocks glass filled with ice.

Garnish with a sprig of Thai basil.

 

Each day for the next 9 days their will be a different christmas cocktail added to the site, so sign yourself up to be the first to find out! Make sure you follow me on Twitter (and the hash tag #24daysofchristmascocktails) or Facebook for instant updates.

 

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

24 Days of Christmas Cocktails – Day 14

Into Day 14 now and another well-known Christmas liqueur is on hand to create a rather classic looking cocktail.

Vanilla Spice

Day 14 – Vanilla Spice – Drambuie

Glass –

Martini glass

Ingredients –

50ml Drambuie
50ml Vanilla Vodka
75ml Cranberry Juice

Method –

Shake Drambuie, vanilla vodka and cranberry juice together. Then pour into a pre-chilled martini glass to enjoy.

Garnished with orange peel.

 

Each day for the next 10 days their will be a different christmas cocktail added to the site, so sign yourself up to be the first to find out! Make sure you follow me on Twitter (and the hash tag #24daysofchristmascocktails) or Facebook for instant updates.

 

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.