Shepherd Neame

Bishop’s FingerChristmas Ale • CinqueSpitfire Gold (cask)Spitfire Gold (bottle) • Whitstable Bay Pale AleWhitstable Bay Red IPA

Bishop’s Finger (5.4% ABV, bottle)
Copper coloured with an off-white head, this beer gushed out of the bottle. It smells rich a fruity (dried strawberries?), with bready malt. On the palate it appears to be a traditional best bitter, with sweetness but balancing hop bite on the finish. With a smooth body, the hop notes are very fresh.

Christmas Ale (7%  ABV, bottle)
This annual favourite is a classic winter warmer. It pours deep copper, bordering on red, with a thick, foamy, beige head. The aroma is of deep, alcohol-soaked Christmas pudding fruit and Demarara sugar. On the palate, the body is very smooth, with glace cherry sweetness, candied fruit and spice, all with that background of alcohol warmth. The finish is bittersweet and not too long.

Cinque (5% ABV, bottle)
Pours a very attractive bright golden with rushing carbonation creating a thinish white head. There’s a herbal, spicy aroma, and a slight mustines, with some bready malt in there, too. The palate is quite herbal with lemon, even a hint of ginger, over a light malt background. It’s certainly very crisp and refreshing and there’s a decent bitter finish that stays well. Quite a fragrant lager, but that’s no criticism. Could be persuaded to return for another. (17-08-2017)

Spitfire Gold (4.1% ABV, cask)
Shepherd Neame Spitfire GoldLike Eeyore, I can sometimes seem programmed to expect disappointment and such was the case when approaching this beer. Jumping on the golden bandwagon by messing around with a long-standing recipe. But no. Actually, this ain’t bad at all. Golden, with earthy, spicy hop notes, it’s a cracking session bitter. Whether I would recognise it as a gold version of Spitfire is another matter.

Spitfire Gold (4.3% ABV, bottle) 
There’s a big hit of hops on the opening of this bottled beer, which pours yellow / gold with plenty of carbonation and a big old head. With hints of grassy hop and biscuity malt on the nose, it’s well balanced and fresh tasting with some lemon citrus and madeira cake notes. Decent bitterness on the finish. (29-11-2015)

Whitstable Bay Pale Ale (4% ABV, bottle)
Deep golden with a very slightly off-white head, there are peppery hops and malt on the aroma of this bottled brew. Citrus comes through on the palate — with biscuit malt balance — with a sharp lemon note on the finish.

Faversham Steam Brewery

Whitstable Bay Red IPA (4.5% ABV, bottle)
Not bad, this, and a beautiful red colour, with a creamy head that stays well. Kentish hop notes — hedgerow, spicy — combine with toffee apple malt notes. An autumn sup, I reckon. (06-10-2016)

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