A Year of Beer 2009 #5 - St. Austell Admiral's Ale
Another part of our (hopefully) year-long video project, A Year of Beer. looking at the idea of beer and seasonality - how different styles of beer are more appropriate to different seasons, weathers, festivals and so on. There will also be a bit of beer and food matching thrown in because, hell, we love to eat as much as we love to drink.
This week: St. Austell Admiral's Ale
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St. Austell Admiral's Ale
It's becoming plain to see that American craft brewing is becoming a huge influence on British brewing. From BrewDog in the north to St Austell in the south, a slavish devotion to extracting maximum flavour from the base ingredients is being practised. Admiral's Ale is just one of the beers that benefits from this approach.
In the video, I mention judging the International Beer Challenge that Admiral's Ale won last year. Indeed, it was a worthy winner, and all the judges were surprised to see that the lovely tasty American-style IPA (maybe something from Deschutes, perhaps?) was in fact a home-grown ale. This victory had a particular resonance for me, as a few weeks earlier, I had judged the "ordinary brown bitter" category (that wasn't its real name, but you get my drift - ale between 3.6%abv and 4.4%abv), and was almost reduced to tears by the sheer monotony of it. I know that there are interesting ordinary brown bitters out there, we just didn't see any that day. So it came as a pleasant surprise that the supreme champion was from these vary shores, a native Englander, albeit one with an American accent.
And not only is that a pleasure, but as the seasons start to turn (and for once, we've had something approaching a winter in the UK, so I find myself looking for a beer that is a bit lighter than the stouts and porters that I like to drink when the nights are long and cold. That this coincides with my birthday this year is a bonus.
As Garrett Oliver has been endlessly quoted as saying, you can buy some of the best beers in the world for the price of a double latte at Starbucks. Admiral's Ale is one of those, a fantastically drinkable beer, interesting to the palate from first to last, chock full of crystal maltiness and zesty hops. Hell, I'm happy to drink it for my birthday, getting my palate back on track, and heralding the arrival of lighter evenings, al fresco dining, and simple lazy beers in the garden. Well, maybe not just yet, but they're coming.