Mrs. Perm and I spent 10 wonderful days in England in mid-May, visiting Canterbury, Cambridge, and Salisbury. Needless to say, there was beer involved, and there will be Brew Picks and Reviews posted here in the coming weeks.
First up, a souvenir pint bottle of the Hepworth Sussex Golden Ale, purchased at the Canterbury Marks & Spencer (a slightly upscale supermarket) and brought back to Virginia. I was able to wait a whole month before cracking it open. Glad I did — this is a truly divine little piece of England that I’ve brought home with me. I think it’s fantastic that Marks & Spencer, much like Whole Foods in the US, contracts local craft breweries to offer up special brews to market in their stores.
The Hepworth Brewery, located in Horsham, Sussex, was founded in 2000 and specialises in classic English styles. The Sussex Golden Ale, formerly called Sussex Bitter, is bottle-conditioned and traditional all the way.
In the glass, it’s a glowing, golden-straw nectar, highly translucent like a dark pilsener or saison. A nice white cap of foam hangs about for most of the glass. 4/5
Some patience with allowing the beer’s temperature to rise yields the reward of a subtle but lovely bouquet of floral English yeast, goldings hops, and ciabatta bread. 4/5
The taste is fantastic — malty (but not sweet), warming, bready, with a perfect mellow bitterness and a snappy, spritzy, hoppy finish. I don’t have enough good things to say about it, so I won’t attempt to try. And it’s 3.8% ABV, so you can quaff these all night long and be good to go. 5/5
Overall, I wish I had brought back about 10 of these, and not just the one. This would be THE perfect beer for bangers & mash or fish & chips. It would also go great with a good English cheese, but I’m happy to sit here and quaff it all by itself. 4.5/5
HIGHLY recommended. If you love English ale, here’s one for you. If you need an introduction to the style, I cannot imagine a better candidate.