Celebrating Trafalgar

Nelson’s Eye is a distinctive golden ale

This year celebrate Trafalgar Day with a Nelson’s Eye.

October is the month for Trafalgar Day events – 21 October was the actual day of the 1805 victory.

At the annual Great British Beer Festival at Olympia, London, back in August, I kept an eye out for something appropriate for Trafalgar events and found Nelson’s Eye from the Heavy Industry Brewery Denbighshire, North Wales.

A new brewery to me, I gave Nelson’s Eye an extended tasting appraisal, especially as over the last three years it has won various beer competitions.

At 4.5 per cent abv, it is a distinctive golden ale dry hopped with imported Nelson Sauvin hops, which are unique to New Zealand and give a hint of grape and citrus. At first impression it tastes a bit sour, but this is intentional to make it a pre-dinner ‘sharpener’ and the flavour grows on you as the palate begins to noticeably tingle! (www.heavyindustrybrewing.com)

Not at the festival but well established in the heart of the Historic Dockyard at Chatham, Kent is the Nelson Brewery. Their appropriate brew and flagship brand is Admiral IPA. At four per cent, it is a traditional IPA brewed with Kentish Cascade hops, giving a dry and citrus flavour. Nice beer and appropriate label. www.nelsonbrewery.co.uk

Gin among the beers

This Adnams gin popped up at Great British Beer Festival

Such is the impact of the continuing new ‘craft’ or ‘artisanal’ gins phenomenon on the drinks trade at large that, among over 900 beers at the Beer Festival, for the first time there was a stand promoting a gin – Fishers London Dry. A bit of a hybrid, this one, it is distilled by Adnams, Southwold along with their beers and other spirits.

The botanicals recipe focuses on capturing the wild and forgotten flavours of England’s East Anglian coastline, like samphire, seaweed, bog myrtle (once used in ale to make it bitter before the introduction of hops back in 1500AD and when distilled on its own as an insect repellent) and spignal (a highly aromatic herb in the parsley family), plus the required juniper to qualify as a London Gin type. They make for a very complex and interesting flavour, quite soft on the palate.

The bottle is artistically pretty and the price is premium at £39 for a 50cl bottle at 44 per cent. It is not widely distributed but the package is different enough to make it a Christmas present for someone special. The best way to source is at www.honestgrapes.co.uk/fishers-gin.

Regional choice

Waitrose says its regional gin sales are up 50 per cent in their stores and they are looking for more new local brands to stock. Regional means being stocked in a limited number of stores close to where the spirit is made, so not every gin in every shop.

With so many gins now in production we can expect more of this pre-selection in supermarkets, but perhaps less so in specialist wine retailers. So keep your eyes on them too.