The Rio Olympics are here as is our summer so despite what sometimes feels like constant rain and cloud we should enjoy the sport with a beer or two.
Many months ago in (slightly) chillier January I was asked to name my favourite beer of 2015.
This was an impossible task for me as I could never pick one beer as a favourite. What beer I want to drink depends on factors such as what I am doing, where I am and if I am eating or simply out for a session.
So instead I choose a standout beer from 2015, something a little different…Elgood’s Coolship Fruit.
In my blog last summer when I judged at the SIBA South East Region beer festival in Tonbridge I eulogised about Elgood’s Coolship Fruit which I blind tasted. Coolship deservedly won Gold in the Keg Speciality beer category and Bronze in the Overall Keg Champion of the competition.
I was bowled over by Coolship’s refreshing qualities. A real summer beer if such a thing exists-seasonal beers, now there’s a whole different debate…
Now I am not normally a huge fan of fruit beers. I feel the myriad of flavours that are thrown up by different combinations of water, hops, malts and yeast are plentiful. There are of course exceptions and Coolship is one so I was inspired to find out a little bit about Elgood’s beers as a result of tasting this wonderful fruit beer for the first time.
Elgood’s who are based in Wansbeck, Cambridgeshire have been brewing since 1878 at the North Brink Brewery. As well as the brewery they have amazing gardens which can be visited on various dates during the year as part of the National Garden Scheme. They hold craft and plant fairs and Jazz events – I love a brewery that diversifies as I feel this makes the brewing industry more accessible to all of us including non beer drinkers who hopefully can be converted!
Elgood’s have a comprehensive range of beers including Bitters, Pale Ales, Scotch Ales and Milds as well as the two sours; Coolship Fruit and Coolship Blonde.
They also have their QE – Quintessentially English, Bottled Beer range. Launched in 2013 the QE range features a stout and two fruity wheat beers; Apple with Vanilla and Cherry.
So if you fancy something a bit fruity to sup with the Olympics here’s my take on Elgood’s fruit beers:
Coolship Fruit – ABV 5% A pink beer with a thin head and a nose of brambles. Coolship Fruit is a refreshing sour Lambic style beer. In order to achieve the tarty sourness Elgood’s use the traditional method used in Belgium to produce Lambics of fermenting the beer in open ‘boats’ or in Elgood’s case open cooling trays, known as coolship trays. Elgood’s have two coolship trays and I hope to see them one day as I think this is a fascinating brewing method. The beer is basically left in the trays to spontaneously ferment using wild yeasts from the atmosphere. This might sound scary but it’s an established method which produces fine sour beers to which fruit can be added. In the case of Coolship Fruit raspberries and blackberries are added. A fellow beer judge at Tonbridge last year remarked that Coolship would be wonderful on a summer’s evening and I couldn’t agree more. Paired with Fruit flan or dark chocolate this is a wonderful beer that I would happily dive into whatever the weather.
Not fruity but also a great sour beer is Elgood’s Coolship Blond. Slightly acidic and tart I found this beer simply danced on my tongue with notes of sherbet and a warming finish from the stronger ABV of 6.1%
If you don’t fancy a sour the fruit wheat beers in Elgood’s QE range are also excellent:
QE Cherry Wheat Beer 3.6% ABV – so very easy to drink! This beer which contains both cherries and raspberries is a lovely scarlet pink colour with a pink foamy head. Sumptuous cherry verging on almond notes in this rich beer would pair beautifully with game or if you have an exceptionally sweet tooth, try a drop with bakewell tart.
QE Apple and Vanilla Wheat Beer 4%. Not surprisingly if you like cider I think you will you will love this. A golden beer with a thin lacey cream head, QE Apple and Vanilla is sweet and has Rhubarb and custard notes but with a slightly bitter finish. I feel this beer benefits from chilling as this accentuates the vanilla notes and gives it a slightly drier taste.
Elgood’s have won numerous awards for their beers in addition to the two Coolship won at the SIBA South East Region beer festival. Let’s hope Team GB can bring home a medal or two!