Just to fill a gap and ease my conscience I am doing just one more posting about beer. My last one received a very positive response from a couple of you (thanks Chris and Geoff) so if the rest of you don't find the subject interesting I will say cheerio and welcome you back for a wildlife focused update next time.
Abbey Beer in Britain
As someone who enthuses about beer you would expect me to have a favourite style and you would be right. Since I first tried it in 1981 I have been passionate about Trappist Beers (the beers produced in various monasteries, usually high in strength and character, although some working Monasteries also produce beers for the monks at a much lower strength, Petite Orval and Chimay Doree are two such examples).
There are only ten genuine Trappist Beers available in the world although there are dozens of Trappist style (or Abbaye) beers which are produced to similar recipes and strengths, some of which stand up very well against the authentic item. In Britain Abbey Beers are rarely produced and when they are, they are often one-off novelty beers that never go into sustained production.
However there are two regularly brewed and genuine British Abbey beers which you can obtain with a little effort.
The first of these appeared in 2012 and was produced for Ampleforth Abbey in Yorkshire. The beer is described as a Benedictine-style beer and is attributed to a seventeenth century recipe. After the reformation, the monks from this abbey were forced to take refuge in Catholic France and
they apparently took the original recipe for their ale with them.
The Abbey assert that this was in fact the first 'English-Style' Ale to be brewed in France .
Some of you who may have attended the Cannock Beer Festival last weekend will have had the opportunity to try this beer for yourself at £3.00 per bottle (not at all bad for a Bottle Conditioned 7% Beer). I brought one home and gave it a couple of days to settle before trying it. It is as malty as is described in the Abbeys publicity but I found the mouth-character a little bit thin for an Abbey Beer (which actually makes it a more dangerous drink as its strength is deceptively underplayed). It is actually brewed by the Little Valley Brewery at Hebden Bridge in Yorkshire and can be obtained from the Abbey shop or if you prefer, by the case over the internet.
The second regularly produced Abbey Beer is brewed by Goddards Brewery on the Isle of Wight for Quarr Abbey near Ryde. The Abbey was founded in 1132 by the Benedictine order and although there is no evidence that I am aware of for a history of on-site brewing, I suspect that it must have happened as beer was a staple in the diet of anyone in the middle ages.
This beer was originally (2014) only available from the Abbey Farm Shop but more recently has started to appear in more outlets around the island (try the shop next to the Newport Ale House in the islands capital for example). Although the Abbey has no actual involvement in the brewing
of the beer, there is a connection in as much as the herbs used to fortify it
(Coriander and Sweet Gale) are produced in the Abbey Gardens.
Of the two, this is the one I prefer. It is fractionally weaker at 6.5% but is a more authentic example of the style as it somehow captures the richer texture associated with this type of beer. For those who like me are afraid of ingesting anything green or healthy, you will be pleased to know that the herbal content of the Ale is not easily apparent in the flavour although I suspect that it contributes to the spiciness of the flavour at some level?
If this posting has made any of you want to explore Trappist and Abbey Beers further I recommend that you pay a visit to either 'BeerBhom' in Lichfield (which has the best range of Abbey and Trappist beers anywhere in the local area) or alternatively, my favourite pub the 'Black Country Arms' which has the best range anywhere in the Walsall area including at least four of the ten genuine Trappist beers as well as several examples of Abbey Styles (just tell Kim that Chaz sent you).
Anyway, for those of you who thought I was just being too idle to go to the Marsh, I hope that this brief sharing of my passion has provided some entertainment?
Hopefully Update tomorrow - Chaz