With my departure from London, the first review of the re-animation is a favourite Kent Brewery, Shepherd Neame, and its lager incarnation of the Whitstable Bay range.
Whitstable Bay Blonde
Commonly consumed in the fantastically hospitable White Horse and Bower just up the road from my soon-to-be ex-workplace, I was recommended this by landlord Steve. Deviating from my usual Spitfire or, when times were hard, San Miguel, I opted for this new addition to the line-up on the assurance that it was light, easy to sink in a lunch break and quite delightful.
Whitstable, as you may well know, dates back to the Palaeolithic era and was a hive of activity during the Roman times – Oysters are plentiful and bloody delicious so naming a range of beer after the town is a definite statement in heritage and flavour. To be honest, I was not too impressed with the Whitstable Bay Pale Ale – it hung too heavy and had a bit of a dinginess to the flavour that stopped me after a couple of attempts. Was the age of the place to blame?
Marcus Aurelius would be more disappointed in me than my parents at this point.
Which is recorded of Socrates, that he was able both to abstain from, and to enjoy, those things which many are too weak to abstain from, and cannot enjoy without excess. But to be strong enough both to bear the one and to be sober in the other is the mark of a man who has a perfect and invincible soul.
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
It appears I am neither strong, sober nor invincible as I have lost many a hour to the refreshment of Whitstable Bay Blonde. Its lascivious straw colour, light carbonation and teasing head attack my willpower as soon as I see the glass hit the bar. Although there’s nothing profound about the flavour the Whitstable Bay Blonde is a refreshing, easy drinking pint of gold. It’s not sweet, but not bitter – it has achieved Aurelius’ pursuit of balance and on draught is an equally non-offensive 4.5%. I’ve seen other reviews (mostly of bottle) that says it feels oily, however, from the keg this isn’t an issue I’ve experienced. It’s a touch earthy, a tiny bit grassy/pine-y and has a subtle buttery biscuit base.
Legend says that in Roman Britain a soldier could afford 200 pints of beer on a single day’s pay – a big factor in why it took so long to build Hadrian’s wall…
I can definitely attest to being a lot slower the days after I indulge in Whitstable Bay Blonde. Salutaria!