The last time Exmoor Ales’ Stag found itself in a bottle it was called Centenary Ale and had been especially brewed to celebrate Somerset Cricket Club’s centenary in 1991. It was meant to be a one-off and sold in four-packs of 330ml bottles.
However, when some of the brew that had been left over after bottling was put into cask and delivered to local pubs, delighted drinkers demanded more of it. It became one of the core Exmoor Ales brands, under the
name of Stag, and has been in cask ever since.
Now, it’s making a re-appearance in bottle, joining stable mates Gold and Beast on both on- and off-trade shelves.
Exmoor Ales’ managing director, Jonathan Price, said: “Exmoor Ales was one of the first of the original first phase of microbreweries to bottle its beers and sell them on supermarket shelves.
“Exmoor Gold was first bottled in 1998, with Exmoor Beast following in 2002. For us, there has been an obvious gap in the bottled range for a Premium Bitter since 2002, which had been down to the brewery’s capacity limitations.
“Now, though, with the investment in the new brewery, there is the ability to brew more beer and Exmoor Stag had been for a long time in the frame as the next beer to bottle, not least as it is the head brewer’s favourite brew.”
He added: “Opportunities for the growth of Exmoor’s bottle output are substantial. Exmoor supplies all the major supermarkets, which for us is a key route to market, while the addition of the ‘missing beer’ in the range
enhances opportunities with restaurants and bars that don’t serve draught cask ales, as well as with regular pubs to enhance their customer offering with a fuller range than can be regularly available on cask.
“With the heritage of Exmoor Stag routed in cricket, and the county cricket club of Somerset famously represented by England’s most infamous Aussie bashing cricketer, Ian Botham, then the launching of Exmoor Stag as this year’s Ashes Test Match Series gets under way is neatly timed. Though whether cricket fans will be drinking Exmoor Stag in celebration or commiseration, we shall see…”
Beer writer of the year, Adrian Tierney-Jones, has long been an Exmoor aficionado. He describes the beer thus: “Dark amber in colour, topped by a snowy head of foam, this bracingly potent bitter has aromatics of chewy, grainy, slightly sweet malts, as well as dried fruit before they are dropped into the cake mix. It is dry and effortlessly fruity on the palate (citrus perhaps), slightly spicy, biscuity, crossed by a delicate touch of caramel, and full-bodied, while the finish is bittersweet with a lingering dryness. A pint or two of this would suffice after
tramping across Exmoor on a cold winter’s day.”