Fuller's Past Masters XX Strong Ale

Fuller's Past MastersIt's rather fun to think you are drinking history. But then I guess beer's long been such a central part of our community, that I guess it's not that surprising that in well-organised breweries such as London's oldest, Fuller's, there are some gems to be unearthed.

In the week that Fuller's launched its commemorative brew to mark Ascot Racecourse's 300th anniversary, I'm enjoying a bottle of the first of Fuller's Past Masters Heritage Series, its XX Strong Ale.

Fuller's Past MastersAlthough this particular incarnation first emerged in the deep snows of December 2010, the recipe actually dates from Setember 1891. Fuller's head brewer John Keeling and its brewing manager Derek Prentice teamed up with brewing historian Ron Pattinson and Peter Simpson from Simpson's malt.

Delving through their thick, heavy old brewbooks, they alighted on this rich, warming beer. Several tweaks of the modern methods later plus the rescue of a historic malt variety Plumage Archer, and this is the result. Bold, spicy, rich and malty, with a pleasant bitterness on the finish, it's not one to hurry.

As for what's coming next? From what the guys in Chiswick say, there's plenty still to discover in those brewing books. We'll keep you posted…

7.5%; 500ml, £4 or £44/case of 12 from the brewery shop, the Fuller's online shop and some of its pubs.