Drinks

Our selection of the new and the notable from the best British drinks producers.
Visit Drinks of the Month for this month's Variety Show

Brains' Boilermaker IPA

There's a lovely malt base to this flavourful IPA, with honey, marmalade, and spice from time spent in Penderyn whisky barrels – a true Welsh IPA. 

This was the winner in Brains' Ultimate IPA challenge - guest brewers including beer celebs Melissa Cole, Marverine Cole (aka Beer Beauty) and the entertaining duo that is Dwink – Ben McFarland and Tom Sandham – were invited to Brains new craft brewery to try there hand at creating an IPA. And it was the lads what won with this creation.

Bath Ales Festivity

Smells of Christmas spices lead onto flavours of roast malts, dark chocolate and mellow coffee on the palate of this "specially crafted Porter".

Chuffed to hear that my favourite hop, Bramling Cross, is amid the ingredient mix, along with wheat as well as barley malt.

5%; available in bottle and in draught, and online at Bath Ales

Bristol Beer Factory Raspberry Stout

This is superb. Delightful aromas of raspberry mix with dark chocolate, while the palate has a true raspberry seam atop plain chocolate, and a refreshing tart note on the finish.

7.7%; available as part of Bristol Beer Factory's 12 Stouts of Christmas - genius initiative.


 

Aspall's Harry Sparrow Cyder

Launched earlier this year, Aspall’s Harry Sparrow cyder, is named after an Aspall’s cyder house legend who spent over 50 years at the family producer. “It’s a tribute to a remarkable man and the many years of dedication to his craft,” says eighth generation cidermaker, Henry Chevallier Guild.

4.6% Available on draught and in 50cl bottles

Shepherd Neame Generation Ale

Well what a pleasure – to get a chance to review a beer that’s been brewed to celebrate the history of one of the country’s foremost brewery. Generation from Shepherd Neame marks five generations of the family at the helm, with five hops and five malts.

A sizeable 9%, it was left maturing for a year before release, so you are getting alovely spicy, dried fruit character. Vanilla, raisins, sultanas mix with chocolate and orange, which in turn mingle with hints of coconut and sweet spice.

9%, £17.50, Shepherd Neame shop & online shop

Shepherd Neame's Classic Collection

When a brewery is the oldest in the land – and organised enough to keep its records – you can betcha there’s some entertaining stuff in them thar archives.

And so it is with Shepherd Neame’s latest arrivals in its Classic Collection series.

Based on recipes from the 1860s and 1870s, its Double Stout and India Pale Ale offer great taste as well as a nod to history.

Nyetimber Demi-Sec NV

Here's something original on the English sparkling wine front - a demi-sec rather than brut fizz from those Sussex pioneers, Nyetimber.

With aromas of candied fruit and rich honey on the nose, this feels like it could be special. And it is.

12%, £35, Harvey Nichols nationwide, Sparkling English Wines 

 

Melville's Craft Lager - Raspberry & Strawberry

Vibrant red, with a substantial head, Melville’s raspberry lager is bursting with concentrated Scottish berry aromas with lots of maltiness to support it. Made by those talented chaps at Innis & Gunn, real lager flavours come through on the palate, and the full-bodied texture is very pleasant. This could easily be deemed a raspberry equivalent of a lager shandy, and is a far cry from some of the simpler fruit flavoured fermented beers and ciders on the market at the moment.

4.1%; available from Sainsbury’s in Scotland and Tesco; £1.73/275ml; also from the online Innis & Gunn shop; £19/12x275ml  

Courage Imperial Russian Stout

The alcohol percentage on this one is downright frightening at 10%. But that's how Catherine the Great of Russia liked it, and she got what she liked when she made demands of her courtiers in 1795.

A bit of background here: Russian Imperial Stout is a strong dark stout dating back to the 18th century when it was produced at Thrale’s Brewery in London to export to the court of Catherine II of Russia. The high alcoholic strength was necessary to prevent the beer from freezing in the temperatures of the Baltic Sea on its voyage to Russia and along with a high degree of hop, it has the keeping quality of a fine wine.

10%; limited availability at the moment – it's only just been relaunched in the UK – but you will find at the wonderful Beers of Europe and beerritz.co.uk

Innis & Gunn Winter Treacle Porter

Dougal Sharp, CEO of Innis & Gunn, was inspired to dig up the old Scottish tradition of spiking porter with treacle when he came across a reference to the practice and a 100 year old recipe in the Scottish drinks history book, A Scot’s Cellar, by Florence Marion McNeill. And so he did it, and it’s worked incredibly well.

7.4%; available from Sainsbury’s and Booths; £2.50/330ml; also from the online Innis and Gunn shop; £27/12x330ml