Classic IPAs and Japanese lager: Susanna Forbes' Swift Halves

Susanna Forbes

Susanna Forbes

24 January 2018

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: £39.91/24x35.5cl; £141.13/30l disposable keg. Boon, Kriek: £27.68/12x37.5cl; £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.

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


Related articles

Beer & Cider

Susanna Forbes' swift halves

From a new Cathedral of Beer in Berkshire to a classic cider producer in Herefordshire, via Spain, Edinburgh, and a perfume shop in Oxford Street, Sus

Beer & Cider

Susanna Forbes’ cider-tinged swift halves

Two weeks after CiderCon, the globe’s largest celebration of the fermented apple, Susanna Forbes' Swift Halves are unsurprisingly cider-tinged.

Beer & Cider

Susanna Forbes' Swift Halves: the latest beer and cider launches

As competition for space in the cider category ratchets up with the news of BrewDog’s investment in Hawkes, this week’s Swift Halves includes three cr

Beer & Cider

Susanna Forbes' Swift Halves: A punchy double IPA, a saffron beer and Mikkeller's first core range

This month’s Swift Halves from Imbibe’s beer and cider editor Susanna Forbes is a mixed bag, ranging from a punchy double IPA to a subtle saffron beer