This cheeky number was first brewed to celebrate 300 years of Shepherd Neame, a thrice-hopped little devil which is under PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) which means it’s pretty much the ale version of Champagne. It’s soft carbonation is the result of the bottle fermentation process, and the rich taste is spicy and fruity mixing Masala wine and liquorice into its roasty goodness.
In 1698; Neame brewed an ale so great
I threw the nursery rhyme in there because as soon as I poured this I was immediately back in a country beer garden, on holiday somewhere as a kid. This gloriously auburn liquid in your glass is your friend, loyal and true. If England suddenly got hit by a freak tornado and your roof blew off in the maelstrom, 1698 would be the first to help you tack a tarp over that two up two down and sift out the floodwater.
The first sip is no disappointment either. A meaty foam followed by a rush of smooth, malty fulfilment. The low crackle of the bubbles breaking the surface help move the scent and taste around in the glass and in the gullet. Waves of rich, enticing flavour linger long after the big first swallow. Now, I’m no expert on Buddhism, but I’d say this was as close to Nirvana as I’m ever going to reach sitting at this desk.
All in all, this is a stirling beverage. I feel it’s unjust of me to only say good things, though, this being a review site and whatnot. My main gripe with this behemoth of a beer is that it is not available in enough pubs. I don’t believe I’ve ever come across it – granted it won’t be on tap, but I would not be averse to sitting in a a good old boozer, sipping on a few pints of these whilst setting the world to rights. Because let’s face it, 1698 pretty much embodies everything that is right with the world.
And like a true gentleman, it makes you feel like a part of it.