Tempting tipples for Christmas
- Credit: Archant
There are plenty of beery delights on tap and in bottle to enjoy over the festive period – and don’t forget that beer is just as good a companion at the dining table as wine.
Leading Santa’s pack is Bateman’s Rosey Nosey from Wainfleet, with the Lincolnshire brewery expecting record sales for the beer. Last year sales grew by 13% over 2012, with orders from supermarkets increasing by a staggering 50%. Since 2009, the beer’s sales have grown by 22.0% each year. Rosey Nosey will be available in both cask and bottle this Christmas and Morrisons has already placed a large order for the bottled version.
Marketing director Jaclyn Bateman says: “Rosey Nosey is one of the most popular festive beers and has achieved iconic status among our customers, with many saying it doesn’t feel like Christmas until they’ve enjoyed their first pint of the ale.” The 4.9% dark amber ale is full of rich fruity sultana and raisin notes fused with crunchy pale, crystal and chocolate malts from Norfolk. It’s hopped with Challenger and Goldings varieties.
Adnams in Suffolk has launched Southwold Spruce (6.5%), which has an addition of Douglas spruce tops along with malt and hops. The bottled beer is exclusive to Marks & Spencer. The brewery has also launched Shingle Bells (4.5%) on draught and in mini-cask, a red ale brewed with pale, caramalt and black malts and hopped with Cascade and Citra varieties. The beer takes its name from the shingle beach at the Suffolk coastal town.
Also in Suffolk, Mauldon’s Brewery, famous for its Blackadder ale, has added Christmas Reserve (6.6%) this year. In Oxfordshire, the famous Victorian tower brewery at Hook Norton has two Yuletide offerings, Greedy Goose and Twelve Days.
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In London, Truman’s Brewery in Hackney Wick has collaborated with Caveman Brewery in Kent to produce Christmas Cave (4.8%), brewed with the addition of caramel, orange peel, dark fruits and coconut.
Phipps in Northampton offers Becket’s Ale made with local honey to mark the 850th anniversary of Thomas à Becket’s associations with the town. Phipps, which also offers Ratcliffe’s Celebrated Stout (4.3%), has a St Albans connection. The original brewery was bought and closed by Watneys of London in the 1960s but it has reopened again. In the 1930s, Phipps built the King William IV, 185 Sandridge Road, as a “roadhouse”. It has been through several hands since then: Chef & Brewer, Scottish & Newcastle and now Ember Inns, part of the Mitchells & Butlers pub estate that includes the Olde Fighting Cox and King Harry.
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The Old Mill Brewery in Snaith, East Yorkshire, is celebrating Christmas in style with three beers: Winter Warmer (4.7%), Santa’s Midnight Moonshine (4.5%) and Black Jack (5%). Marble Brewery in Manchester brews its organic Stout Porter (5.1%) for the season while Ilkley Brewery has two beers at 4.7%, Mary Christmas spiced amber ale and Holy Cow cranberry milk stout.
In Somerset, Butcombe Brewery produces Christmas Steps (4.2%) while Harvey’s in Lewes, Sussex, produces Christmas Ale at a redoubtable 7.5%, a beer that was named Best Barley Wine in the World Beer Awards in 2012.
The Dorset family brewer Hall & Woodhouse is offering four beers as its Badger Sett for the season: Hopping Hare, First Call, Blandford Flyer and Poacher’s Choice. The box is on sale in selected branches of Sainsbury’s and Waitrose, via Ocado or from the brewery’s online shop www.badgerdirect.com at £7.50.
Close to home, Red Squirrel in Berkhamsted brews Winter’s Tail (5%), a dark copper beer using both German and New Zealand hops. Tring Brewery produces a seasonal beer called Santa’s Little Helper (4.8%) with a delicious nutty character from the use of roasted barley, while Chiltern Brewery offers Black Chocolate Stout, which at 9.5% alcohol should keep the winter blasts at bay.
Buntingford Brewery near Royston has two seasonal offerings, Silent Night (4.1%) and Donner & Blitzen (4.4%). The last named is German for Thunder and Lightning: you’ve been warned!