By Nina Koo-Seen-Lin.
I’m going to say something that a lot of my highbrow, wine-drinking girlfriends are going to splutter over: I love ale. There, I’ve confessed! If I’m honest, I think beer would be one of my occasional drinks of choice. When I heard about a launch night for two new cask ales exclusive to Nicholson’s Pubs I jumped at the chance to attend. Not least because it was an evening hosted by Marverine Cole, aka the Beer Beauty, a woman so into her beer (like myself) and so stunning (like myself!) that within five minutes of meeting her she completely banished any thought of ale as merely middle-aged bearded male refreshment (bearded middle-aged females drink it too!).
The Mudlark pub near London Bridge and joined a huge number of brewers, reviewers and beer lovers alike.
We remained a merrily mixed bunch. I was happy to notice I wasn’t the only person wearing high heels in the cramped upstairs bar. The high spirits continued when we were told all the beer had to be finished off before closing time and the tables were laden with platters of all things delicious and deep-fried (chicken, calamari, brie…).
The Thornbridge Frank as Apollo
The first launched ale I tried during the evening. This was the winning ale for the 2011 Great British Home Brew Challenge. Created by Paul Carruthers, this is an amber ale that has a sweet taste and a dry finish. This ale beat over 120 entries. Paul also came up with the unusual name. At the time of the brewing, his son, Frank, was learning about the Greeks in school and he used the Apollo hop. The ale is exclusive to all 80 Nicholson’s Pubs.
The Nethergate Three Mills Pale Ale
This ale was created to celebrate the memory and craftsmanship of William Nicholson and the success of Nethergate, who were recently awarded the Good Pub Guide Brewery of the Year 2012. Mike Atkinson, Director of Nethergate describes the beer as “a golden light ale for the spring.” It has a less bitter and rather zesty taste than the other ales the brewery have done in the past. It’s also exclusive to Nicholson’s Pubs.
Dam Tasty Beaver
Not one I’ve tried myself, I have to admit. I asked Richard Robinson, owner of Itchin Valley Brewery, Hampshire for the most unusually named beer he’d tried. This was his answer. I believe it is craft brewed at The Florence pub Herne Hill (on Dulwich Road). It’s made with bitter orange and American hops, which gives it a slightly spiced and Satsuma taste. Worth ordering just for the opportunity of saying the name.
Kernel Pale Ale
Kernel is a character in Darren Shan’s The Demonata series. He has magical powers (he took a demon’s servant and transformed it into a baby brother for himself named Art). In the real world, Kernel is the name of a London Brewery that aims to provide better beer. The ale doesn’t have magical powers but it is available in many London establishments including Ben’s Canteen in Clapham Junction where it’s paired perfectly with the restaurant’s signature All Day Breakfast Scotch Egg.
The newly opened British gastropub, The Jugged Hare, brews its own house beer which has a light citrus ale with a hint of spice and is perfect for a Meat Feast Monday! Pair a pint with some cracking classics from the menu like suckling pig, bone marrow or black pudding.
Frank as Apollo and Three Mills Pale Ale will be available for the next three months only. I’ll be following the Nicholson’s London Ale Trail during that time sipping down the spring ales while they’re still available. If you care to join me, just follow the lipstick marks I’ll be leaving on the pint glasses.