Archive for April 12th, 2008

Beer Review: Sole Bay Brewery – Adnams Broadside Strong Original

12 April, 2008

TESCO have a new range of bottled beers in stock. So it’s my solemn duty to review every last one of them. This one is Adnams Broadside Strong Original. It’s from the Sole Bay Brewery from Southwold, Suffolk, England. And it costs slightly above average for a 500 millilitre bottle.

Adnams Broadside bottle

The dark glass and background label give this bottle a stylish dark look. I think it looks like a small bottle of rum or some other spirit. It looks good.

The little neck label has a small illustration of some sort of sword wielding warrior and the slogan “Beer From The Coast”. Something that turns up again and again, including embossed on the glass at the bottom of the bottle.

Adnams Broadside neck label

The front label uses colour to good effect. Even if all the words are a little jumbled up. The Adnams name is orientated one way. The Broadside name another. And there’s the reference Solebay and 1672. It’s not immediately clear if Adnams or Solebay (or should that be Sole Bay?) are the brewer. What does get my attention is the picture of a ship. And the 6.3% volume. Which makes this a strong ale. And I like strong ales. That’s actually why I chose this beer over others on the shelf.

Adnams Broadside front label

Over on the back label, and the nautical theme continues. The little story tells us that Broadside commemorates a 1672 navel battle with the Dutch Republic, just off the Southwold coast. Presumably, that’s the time in history when the Dutch decided that wars weren’t their thing, and turned their attention to tulips and soft drugs instead.

Adnams Broadside back label

Keeping things to the point, the label continues with a short description of what to expect from this beer. This includes mentions of “fruit cake aromas, almonds and conserved fruit”. The language might be different to what’s on most beer bottles, but I think it means that this will have plenty of complex, fruity flavours.

The web addresses listed include www.adnams.co.uk and www.beerfromthecoast.co.uk. Both of which work, and take you to some very professional and informative parts of the Adnams empire. That’s an improvement over the addresses given on some ale bottles out there.

One interesting addition is on the little red bar at the bottle of the rear label. It turns out that this is the lightest 500 millilitre beer bottle in the UK. And that is because light glass has been used. Which it transpires is better for the environment. George Monbiot will be pleased.

Also on the small print, this 500 millilitre bottle has 3.2 UK units of alcohol. And has the slogan “Remember, you can have too much of a good thing”. Very responsible. I’d suggest that something similar be printed on the cans of high-strength lager, but you couldn’t call them a “good thing”. Adnams on the other hand, call a beer to “savour”, so let’s see if they’re right.

Adnams Broadside in a glass

I thought I had poured carefully. As you can see, the head disagreed by frothing up, held together only by surface tension. And that was with stopping and starting, letting it settle every so often. Still, it soon settled down enough to drink. Be warned if you try to pour from the bottle yourself. Broadside needs time and care.

Apart from the head, a couple of other things struck me. First was the colour. This is much darker than I was expecting. It looks more like a stout. This is partly backed up by the other thing that struck me. The smell. The label describes the aroma as being like a rich fruit cake. I’d describe it as smelling like the rich malts you find in stouts. It is very rich smelling indeed. But what does it taste like?

The first gulp leaves me thinking “what is that?” It does have that deep, rich, malty flavour of a stout. But the aftertaste, or should that be aftertastes, go beyond that. This is going need a few more gulps to understand…

A few more gulps in, I think I’m cracked it. The aftertaste is where you’ll find all those fruits and things mentioned on the label. That makes this an unusual beer. The first tastes and flavours are like that of a stout. But it’s more than that. After those flavours, it changes to the fruity and hoppy flavours that you’d find in an ale.

This is a very strong flavoured brew. Full-bodied and with lots of character are some of the jargon terms that get used for this kind of beer. It is somewhat gassy, but it is smooth and easy to drink. The quality is much in evidence.

The flip side of this is that it won’t be to everyone’s tastes. In fact, I’m still unsure whether to love it or hate it myself. If you like stout, you’d be insane not to try this. If you like ales with lots of complex flavours. Or if you like beers and ales with lots of fruit, then by all means give Broadside a go. But be prepared for the possibility that you’ll find it to be just too much.

Personally, I’m going to rate it as above average. It’s got quality in spades. Flavours and taste combinations that I previously hadn’t thought possible. And originality. But it’s just too stout-like and inaccessible for me. And will be for other people to. It’s an excellent half-a-litre, but I wouldn’t open another bottle straight after it. I would however be eager to try other beers carrying the Adnams name to see if the positives carry-over.

Rating: 4.025

Have you tried Adnams Broadside? Or anything else by Adnams?
What did you think of it?
Comments in the comments box please.


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