Matt Dicks, WSET qualified Beers, Wines and Spirits Specialist for Waitrose, picks his favourite East Anglian beers…
What does a Czech spa, the White House and the town of Burton upon Trent have in common? The answer is simply beer, and what is there not to like about the charm of a cleansing ale? My perfect party on a warm and sunny day starts with a beer – an ice cold beer, preferably served in a frozen glass. As much as I love a glass of wine or fizz, there’s nothing like that refreshing taste of beer hitting the lips. Even though most people don’t hesitate to serve beer cold, this hasn’t always been the case. A delve into the history books reveals that during the 17th century, beer was often served warm as a source of heat and would often replace a meal, siting that warm, malty beverages were more ‘healthful’. The White House even has its own brew, although, when it comes to suitable names, I’ll leave that to your imagination! Some folk even bathe it is. Czech Republic-based Chodovar, claims the practice boosts blood circulation, opens up pores, softens the skin and infuses the body with vitamins. One way ticket, anyone?
From inspirational new breweries to traditional favourites, from bright and fresh beers to deep and richly flavoured ales, there’s something to cater for everyone’s palate.
So what of the brewers in Burton, well, despite this Midlands town historically accounting for a quarter of UK beer production at one time, you don’t have to leave the Eastern Counties to enjoy a pint of pleasure and there are plenty of East Anglian Beers worth a shout out.
British diners are today catching on to a new culinary experience – pairing beer with food, proving there’s more to life than a pint and a packet of Walkers. This can sometimes be a dubious task for those with little knowledge or experience. However, help is on hand thanks to the team at Beer for That. Simply tweet your dish of the day and one of their experts will provide a suitable pairing.
East Anglian Beers to celebrate
With such a wide range worth seeking out, here are a selection of my beautiful brews:
St Peter’s – Organic Best, Bungay
Organic malted barley is used to produce this golden great from the St. Peter’s Brewery in Bungay, and, to provide the distinctive hoppy character, organic hops are also added. When it comes to food pairing, this works perfectly with smoked or cured meats or a partner to a traditional picnic spread.
Elgoods – Golden Newt, Wisbech
I seem to recall my last visit to Wisbech was for a musical organ concert with my family, but the opportunity to sample the town’s local beer warrants another visit. Established over 200 years ago and run by the Elgood family since 1878, the brewery produces a range of fine ales throughout the year. Golden Newt, with its prominent citrus and roasted nut character, is named after the colony of Great Crested Newts residing in the brewery garden lake. A delicious pairing with that family favourite, fish and chips.
Adnams – Broadside, Southwold
Out of all the rich and full-bodied beers available on the market, Adnams Broadside has got to be my firm favourite. It can also double up as an ideal ale to cook with, especially for beef. Brimming with fruit cake and strawberry jam aromas, this dark ruby-red beer is produced in the Suffolk coastal resort of Southwold. Founded in 1872 by George and Ernest Adnams, the company also established the Copper House distillery in 2010, making it a popular destination for locals and visitors to the county.
Oakham – Citra, Peterborough
If you happen to be visiting the cathedral city of Peterborough and you fancy a cleansing pint, then seek out The Brewery Tap. Located within the old labour exchange on Westgate, the pub houses the renowned micro-brewery called Oakham Ales, claiming to make it the largest brewpub in Europe! One of my favourites brews is their Citra, which uses hops of the same name. Bursting with lychee, grapefruit and gooseberry aromas, it’s a top tipple with Thai food or spicy tacos – and it’s now available in a can!
Mile Tree, Toppled Crown, Wisbech
On a recent visit to Oliver Cromwell’s House in Ely, I stumbled across a range of beers produced to celebrate the city and its connection with this former political leader. Deep amber in colour and exploding with flavours of oranges and butter biscuits, complimented by a touch of spice, the beers are produced by Mile Tree Brewery, based in the Fenland market town of Wisbech. Enjoy with a traditional ploughman’s lunch, as it sets off English Cheddar and Stilton to perfection.
If you’ve enjoyed reading this article on The best East Anglian beers, then check out The best local beer to accompany your BBQ
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