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St. George’s Day: A Focus on English Craft Ale

With it being St. George’s Day soon we want to talk about British craft ale. St. George’s Day falls next week on the 23rd April and it’s a day to embrace all things England. In reality St. George’s Day is celebrated in some form in numerous countries and cities around the world, but in England, it often passes by without us noticing.

You may be asking yourself why St. George deserves the title of patron saint of England. Well, legend has it that St. George slayed a dragon on flat-topped Dragon Hill in Uffington, Berkshire, and it is said that no grass grows where the dragon’s blood trickled down! Sound’s far-fetched right? But who really cares? It’s another opportunity to kick back with a nice beer and celebrate all things English.

The English craft ale scene has grown by leaps and bounds over centuries and particularly in the lifetime of more recent generations. In 1982 you’d be able to pick up a pint for just 72p! These days you’re lucky to get much change out of a fiver especially if you’re sampling the beers in the South. But what kind of beers would you have expected for such low prices? In the twentieth century, local brewers commanded the pubs within their areas, you’d be unlikely to try brews from miles away unless you travelled there.

In the early parts, it wasn’t uncommon to be faced with very dark beers such as stouts, porters and milds— these were not for the faint-hearted and often hit ABV counts of up to 7%. In history the terms ‘stout’ and ‘porter’ are often intertwined particularly with the restrictions enforced by two world wars which weakened beers. But who were they made for? The working English man— porters originated from the London area and were sunk mainly by their namesakes; the river and street porters of the capital.

As we’ve crept into the twenty-first century the brewing scene in our green and pleasant land has changed greatly; this is largely due to the influx of quirky microbrewers nationwide. But as a nation, we’ve realised that we can be better with a little help from our European friends. Brewer’s these days often choose to include hops from countries such as Slovenia to mimic traditional European styles like Kolsch and Pilsner in order to create well balanced and hearty beers— but we must not forget that these beers are still English. They’re brewed on English soil, with English water making them national gems to be proud of.

Wanting to celebrate St. George’s Day in style? Check out some types of beers below that thrive with a little English charm and the might of a dragon:

Bitter

English bitters developed in the nineteenth century as a by-product of the pale ale. With an ordinary bitter look out for an assortment of distinct aromas of spicy, peppery and grassy hop flavouring to powerful sharpness with a tangy, fruity and nutty malt feel. The bitter extends its charm through variations as; best bitters and strong bitters— spot these by their dominating fruity flavourings with a crucial sharp element.

Stout and Porter

In recent years this old time beer has been reinvented to eliminate its ‘old man’s drink’ associations. Though not as strong as it used to be the beers still retain their appeal as they adopt the same tropes. A pint of Stout

or Porter will typically offer a dark and roasted malt character with undertones of coffee, raisin and liquorice. But it’s not a stout without the undercurrents of a hefty hoppy bitterness.

Pale Ale or IPA

IPA’s were first brewed for their preservative qualities which made them perfect for long overseas journeys. Today pale ales are known for their distinctive golden colouring and interesting infusions of flavours. For a true IPA look out craft ales with 4% strength and above who adopt juicy malt, citrus fruit and peppery undertones alongside their bitter punch.

Golden Ale

Relatively new in the world of beer the golden ale first came to the forefront in the 1980s— its aim was to capture young drinkers from foreign lager companies. Golden ales are particularly eye-catching due to the spectrum of colours they appear as; from straw coloured to amber to yellow. These particular brews derive from pale malts with additions from citrus fruits and hints of vanilla and are known to be thirst quenching on a summer’s day.

Lager

Lager used to be left mostly to foreign producers but now English breweries are expanding the choice available to the consumer. There are now a range of craft breweries that exclusively offer lager making this the time for English brewing. As with the beer styles mentioned, new age brewing loves to interfere with traditional methods offering room for new hybrid beers such as; dark lager, dry hopped lager and other concoctions to sample.

So if you’re looking to celebrate St. George’s Day with a little English pride why not give a nod to the English brewing scene? Whether you’re old school and like to stick to brews with heritage or slightly more new age and strive for beers with a little something extra then we’ve got the thing for you. Look out for our ‘Forever England’ crate which can offer you a brew with the fire of a dragon and a little taste of England.

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