Alongside the UK debut of Luxembourg’s first cidery, malt hogs the spotlight with this week’s Swift Halves, from a low -alcohol London winner to a daring American imperial stout, via SIBA’s Champion bottled beer and an Irish coconut porter
Ramborn Cider Co, Original, 5.8%, Luxembourg
Yes, Luxembourg! New to the UK, Ramborn works with 100 farmers to cherish historic local apple varieties with names such as Rambo (yes!), Boskoop and Bohnapfel. The results are vibrantly distinctive. Ripe, warm peach cobbler notes on the nose lead to a sprightly Cox and Braeburn apple-infused palate. The bubbles heighten the tang and there’s a good balance of acids and sugars.
Anything else? Crafty Nectar also stocks Ramborn’s highly regarded perry.
£39.55/24x33cl; Crafty Nectar, firstname.lastname@example.org, 07769 345401
Anspach & Hobday, Table Porter 2.8%, London
With dark chocolate, coffee and liquorice notes, this punches well above its 2.8% abv. It was this depth and complexity that led to A&H’s Table Porter being crowned Champion Lower Alcohol Beer of London on 14 March. ‘You can imagine this being drunk in the 18th century,’ said fellow judge, Fuller’s brewing legend John Keeling. ‘It is based on our porter recipe but with a number of additional malts to boost the body and complexity that is lost with the reduction in abv,’ Paul Anspach told Imbibe.
Anything else? While the beer topped Imbibe’s own low-alcohol tasting back in 2015, it had been retired, but was revived on a one-off basis specially for the competition. ‘Ultimately, if the demand is there then we would be thrilled to see the Table Porter back as a core beer, as for us it was always a bit of a favourite,’ says Anspach.
£85/30l keg; Anspach & Hobday, 020 8617 9510
Porterhouse Brewing Co, Bounty Hunter, 4.2%, Dublin
Nitro coconut porter
To celebrate the opening of its €6m new Dublin brewhouse, Porterhouse Brewing ran a competition, the Porterhouse Beer Project, for all its staff to create the inaugural beer to be released from their new home. Bounty Hunter is the result, launched appropriately enough in time for St Patrick’s Day. The coconut adds a deft sweetness to this milk chocolate infused, medium-to-full bodied porter.
Anything else? Established in the 1990s, the Porterhouse Brewing Company opened Ireland’s first brewpub, The Porterhouse in Temple Bar, Dublin, in 1996.
£37.58/24x33cl; £88.35/30 kegs; email@example.com, 07736 775502
Tring, Death or Glory, 7.2%, Hertfordshire
Wow – what a treat! First brewed over 20 years ago, the 2018 Bottle Champion at SIBA’s Independent Beer Awards offers rich, Malteser notes thanks to its complex list of ingredients. Prolonged storage before release is used to good effect to develop the flavours. Neapolitan ice cream notes mingle with flavours of chocolate, cappuccino and white chocolate.
Anything else? The name comes from the regimental motto of the Queen’s Royal Lancers – one of Tring’s founders was a former Lancer.
£17.64/12x33cl; £98.96/40l cask; Tring Brewery, 01442 890721
Hardywood, Raspberry Stout, 9.2%, Virginia
A sumptuous showstopper that will win the hearts of whoever comes near. Beautifully judged, with the dark, savoury nature of cacao nibs mixing with chocolate malt, alongside tangy, dark raspberry notes. Long finish. New into the UK this year, enjoy with dessert or after dessert. Or instead of dessert. Or anytime.
Anything else? Established in 2011 Hardywood’s founders include third generation brewmaster Patrick Murtagh and Richmond, Virginia’s first certified cicerone, Eric McKay.
£57/12x50cl; £190/30l keg; American Craft Beer, 0845 689 0234