Exmoor Ale, 3.8%
Unlucky for some? Not with Exmoor Ale. Back in 1980, Exmoor Ale was the new brewery’s sole beer and even though it was only supplying eight pubs it send several casks from its 13th brew to the Campaign For Real Ale’s beer festival at Alexandra Palace. Much to its surprise and delight, Ale was adjudged to be the Best Bitter in the country and Exmoor Ales (or Golden Hill as it was known then) has never looked back. Twenty-seven years on, beer drinkers constantly judge Ale to be their favourite tipple, making it the brewery’s bestseller.
This light chestnut-brown session beer has a fresh, grainy, biscuity nose with a hint of fresh citrus fruit in the background thanks to the use of intricate hop grist of Goldings, Challenger, Brewers Gold and Styrian Goldings, while the palate tingles with a stunning counter play between grainy, biscuity maltiness and a sprightly citrusy fruity centre with a suggestion of mint adding to the fun. The refreshing finish is a Challenger hop-driven bittersweetness co-existing with a lingering dryness, while traces of biscuity maltiness, the merest whisper of chocolate (from a pinch of chocolate malt in the mash) and more fruit also make an appearance. The sort of finish that says ‘do have another sip’.
Try it with steak and kidney pudding or roast lamb, the sweetness in the latter dovetailing with the sweetness in the ale, with the bitterness keeping everything in order. There are always fish and chips as well, with the hop fruitiness cutting through the fat of the batter, while making sure the fish’s flavour isn‘t overwhelmed.