Classic IPAs and Japanese lager: Susanna Forbes’ Swift Halves

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Drinks: Beers, Ciders
Location: UK

We mix old with new this week, as our beers and ciders range from a classic IPA to a reimagined Japanese lager, from afternoon tea at an ultra-fashionable London haunt to ciders from a French superstar and Imbibe Live’s own cider ambassador


Asahi, Super Dry, brewed in Italy

Lager, 5.2%%

When Asahi Super Dry was first launched in 1987 it caused a stir in Japan, being unlike anything else on the market. Brewed for many years under contract in the UK, Asahi’s purchase of SAB Miller means is now emanating from Peroni’s brewery in Padua. More importantly perhaps, it’s crafted from the same ingredients as the Japanese original, including the Asahi Japanese yeast.

The result is a lager with characteristic clean finish but also more light Rich Tea Biscuit maltiness, and some welcome texture. Also available on keg, where there’s a new font to deliver the perfect pour.

Anything else? To illustrate Asahi Super Dry’s versatility with food, the chefs at Nobu have crafted a number of matches for a one-off event, ranging from softshell crab salad through to passionfruit brûlée.

POA/24x33cl, Asahi UK, 01483 718118


Afternoon Tea at The Rosebery, London

In typically creative fashion, Martyn Railton of Euroboozer has got good beer onto one of the capital’s most upmarket Afternoon Tea menus. The Rosebery Lounge, a 1920s haven in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel overlooking Knightsbridge complete with high ceilings and chandeliers, now offers a trio of beers from the UK, US and Belgium, alongside fine loose leaf teas and champagnes, all matched with exquisite sandwiches and pastries.

Covering a breadth of styles, our favourite matches with the refreshingly hoppy Thornbridge Chiron (5%), included the goat’s cheese, caramelised onion and butternut squash sandwich and the Cotswold egg and black truffle sandwich. Rogue’s Hazelnut Brown Nectar (5.6%) sprightly malt base proved ideal with Battenburg, while the  cherry notes and balanced sparkle of Kriek Boon (4%) proved particularly versatile. Staff knowledge – and pride – was examplary. Cost: £65 per head.

Anything else? ‘It was truly a joint effort,’ Railton said of the menu creation with the Mandarin Oriental’s Food & Beverage Manager, Nicole Ebner. ‘It has totally redefined my thoughts on beer,’ said Ebner, who admitted to not being a big beer fan before.

Thornbridge, Chiron: £16.77/12x33cl. Rogue, Hazelnut Brown Nectar: £39.91/24×35.5cl; £141.13/30l disposable keg. Boon, Kriek: £27.68/12×37.5cl; £85.91/20l keg. Euroboozer, 01923 263 335


Thornbridge Craft Beer Residency, Castle Pubs, nationwide

Halcyon may be one of Thornbridge’s earlier beers, debuting over a decade ago, but its juicy, tangy hop presence on the palate and classy, clean yet moreish finish gives this 7.4% ‘Imperial’ IPA perennial popularity. So it’s good to see it appearing on the Thornbridge Craft Beer Residency taking place at over 100 M&B pubs and bars over the next six weeks.

As well as the favourites, there’s a number of new brews, including the exclusive Mimosa, created by head brewer Rob Lovatt with half-a-dozen of the M&B Brew Crew. A Vermont-style session IPA (4.8%) with 50% wheat in its mashbill, this pours hazy and tastes refreshingly tangy. craftbeerresidency.com

Anything else? To coincide with the residency, a number of meet the brewer and food pairing events will take place.

Halcyon: £18.46/12x33cl, Thornbridge, 01629 815999


Eric Bordelet, Sydre Argelette 2015, France

Off-dry cider, 5.5%,

Returning to another classic, Eric Bordelet’s Sydre Argelette is one of cider’s new wave that helped kickstart the modern renaissance. Eric Bordelet arrived back at his the family orchards in the south of Normandy in the early 1990s. A friend of the late Didier Dagueneau, he is a firm advocate of terroir, working with over 20 apple varieties and 15 pear varieties.

This is made with apples from trees grown on schistous soils, the Argelette in the name. With peach and ripe apricots on the nose following through to more stone fruits and rustic Russett and Braeburn apple flavours across the palate, this has an elegant texture, soft, persistent tannins and a long finish.

Anything else? Bordelet was originally a wine sommelier, rising to the top in Parisian circles and ending up at Alain Passard’s multi-Michelin-starred L’Arpège.

£9.31/75cl, Les Caves de Pyrene, 01483 558820


Oliver’s Cider & Perry, At The Hop, Herefordshire

Hopped, medium cider, 5.5%

Tom Oliver’s At The Hop #7 bounced onto our palates at the end of a small tasting for my next cider feature (see the Spring issue). This time Oliver’s characteristic bittersweet blend of cider varieties has both UK Cascade and Czech Kazbek in the mix. Complex, layered and textured, with warming apple and apricot crumble notes and a long finish, the hops add a welcome, light citric twang, leaving the mellifluous tannins to weave their magic.

Anything else? Oliver’s family used to grow hops on the farm before poor trading conditions of the late 1990s persuaded them to turn to apples instead.

£32-40/12x50cl, Fine Cider, 07792 616446; The Real Al, 07967 646245

About Author

Susanna Forbes

Journalist, editor and drinks judge, Susanna Forbes specialises in beer, cider, English wine and drinks tourism. Regularly to be found on Twitter @DrinkBritain, she’s recently bought an orchard in Herefordshire with her husband, James, to start their own cider business.

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