Total Score: 6.6/10
It sounds like the name of a new Iron Chef style brewing show where Sam Calagione battles against Jim Koch for the Iron Brewer crown, which is a hat shaped like a Spiegelau IPA glass: Master Brew… Kentish Ale! [said with a pause in the middle with an overtly ridiculous American movie trailer voice] However it isn’t. It’s just a beer. A beer by Shepherd Neame nonetheless but still a beer [I so wanted to see “Master Brew Kentish Ale” on the T-box, but oh well *pops open bottle*].
Poured from a you-know-what-size-it-is into you-know-which-receptacle, aka 500ml/nonic pint.
A: Clear auburn-copper body with a foamy off-white 1 cm head that wont actually just quit. I don’t know how Shepherd Neame do it but all their beers look exactly the same, least the ones I’ve tried… just as well it’s a good look for an EB. 7/10.
S: All their aromas are similar too… do you reckon Shepherd Neame distribute the same product in different packaging and the joke’s on us? I swear I had a Spitfire the other day and the aroma was exactly the same… toffee/caramel malts, fruity/earthy hops and a restrained tea leaf tannin in the background. Straight up English Bitter goodness right ‘ere! 7/10.
T: Verbatim what I wrote for Spitfire applies: “Balanced flavour here; the hops add a citrus tang and the caramel malts come through on the back palate”… Shepherd Neame I like you but you are seriously ‘aving a larf. If I could taste a point of difference this one has a bolder herbal bitter note in the finish but otherwise this brew is a definite bed mate to Bishops Finger and Spitfire, the fact that those other brews are decent reflects on this similarly tasting brew. Metal note implies some classic copper vats used in the brewing process and a slight distraction. 7/10.
M: It’s not all “good news goats” with a carbonation that is distractingly “burpy” for lack of a better descriptive, body is mid to light and spot on though. 5/10.
D: Not bad as usual Mr. Neame. This is a decent enough EB that doesn’t wow but at the same time it doesn’t disappoint either – it’s like the ale version of long-relationship sex – gets the job done. My only gripe is how gassy it is – it certainly doesn’t facilitate the ‘slamming down pints Dave Lister style’ drinking that I know and love, I’ve really had to pace myself with this one, maybe that was Shepherd Neame’s plan all along… 6/10.
Food match: That not-so-old English classic: Chicken Tikka Masala with Biriyani and a Naan of course!