Monday, August 15, 2011


Or, more precisely, local beer (and cider, and wine, what the hell). We're blessed in this part of Essex with some glorious micro-breweries serving wonderful real ale. I have the beard, I'm certainly old enough to no longer care about 'cool' (not that cool and I were ever even remotely acquainted), and so in no particular order I shall share some of my local favourites with this blog for the hell of it.

1. Umbel Ale (Nethergate)
Brewed on the Suffolk/Essex border near Clare, Umbel Ale is the perfect accompanient to spicy foods, particularly curries. It is this citrus ale with its coriander that has inspired this post, simply because I'm buying a couple of bottles to give to my friends for their 15th wedding anniversary this weekend. If you're suitably inspired, you can even buy yourself a case online here.

2. Malt Shovel Mild (Sticklegs)
This gorgeous mild is the first thing I look for at any beer festival, and has won numerous awards to boot. The biggest disappointment is that it's the only Sticklegs beer not currently available in a bottle. Colcestrians looking to try Sticklegs other beers can do so through Guntons and The Food Company.

3. Island Oyster (Mersea Brewery)
This dark beer is one for singing sea shanties to, brewed as it is just six miles down the road on the coast on Mersea Island. The oysters give it a rich flavour and again it's available in most local shops, including the Co-op.

4. Perronelle's Blush (Aspalls)
This gorgeous cider (or "cyder" as Aspalls would have it) is one of four produced by Aspalls in Suffolk. It's difficult to tell the others apart - all subtle variations, and all quaffable. But Perronelle's Blush stands out for the fact it mixes in blackberry liquer to great effect. It shouldn't work, but it does.
Oh, and you can order it online too at some great prices (shame about the delivery charge).

5. Blackwater Mild (Crouch Vale)
My second favourite mild after Malt Shovel Mild, and again not available in bottles. Tasted this for the first time on Mersea Island over the Easter weekend. Lovely.

6. Augustinian Ale (Nethergate)
If I could get this in a bottle I'd be very happy, but while the website claims to sell it as a bottle-conditioned beer I got short shrift when I attempted to order 18 months ago. Instead I have to make so with the odd half every year or so at the Clare Priory Craft Fair.

7. King Coel (Carter's Vineyard)
You'd think English wine would be rubbish, but this red is very drinkable. Perhaps a little lacking in body, but enjoyable nonetheless. Pick it up from Guntons, the Stanway Co-op or online. They sell other wines and a tolerable cider too.

I'm only just starting on this tour of local beers. I clearly have a taste for darker beers, although the odd pale ale is enjoyed too. I'm hoping to sample Harwich Brewery's Penny Mild, for example, while I've merely scratched the surface with local breweries with this roundup: Mighty Oak in Maldon, Red Fox of Coggeshall, Mauldon's of Sudbury, the list goes on.

No comments: