This article is the one I've been least excited about. True, it has two nice beers from Shepherd Neame, but the thought of trying to drag the other two beers into something readworthy was tiresome. I tried a few weeks ago and grew bored just thinking about them. Sigh..
The first of 'those' beers is Flying Scotsman, from Caledonian Brewery in Edinburgh. I had a nice time with Deuchars IPA last year, so I was happy enough to give this one ago.
It's not terrible. It's red, it's nutty, it's strangely corny, and has just a touch of fruit on the nose. The taste picks up a small bit, but ultimately the hints of raisins, toffee, biscuit and grain are all too weak to be considered full-blown flavours.Grand but bland, as the notes say.
The Caledonian 80/- is next, and brings the range from forgettable to plain bad. Sure, it has the same rusty red hue, but the metallic notes on the nose overpower everything else. The taste has some tangy red beery stuff with a very light bitterness, but ultimately it's incredibly weak, and actively works against my tastebuds. I wouldn't try either of these again.
To Kent then, and Shepherd Neame with two fancy-pants bottles, a welcome change from their almost guaranteed-to-be-rank clear bottled regulars. First up is the India Pale Ale. It pours copper in colour and has a very surprisingly pungent nose. Fruity and vegetal hops with citrus rind and marmalade poking through, you go Shepherd Neame! The taste is very English indeed, with the hop flavours present but in the back row, allowing a syrupy toffee and biscuit backbone to take control. Tasty, if not quite on the money.
Finally, the Double Stout. Opaque black is the look of it, gorgeous milk chocolate is the smell of it. Some mocha, some sweet, syrupy malts, even some dark fruits, it's a very nice aroma. Things only get better on the palate, with a hit of cocoa powder and smokey, bitter coffee the order of the day. Some of that sticky toffee can be found in the background, but it's a fairly balanced beer overall - the hops lend a nice fist of herbal bitterness to proceedings. Great beer, and by far and away the best Shepherd Neame beer I've had to date.
And that concludes the tedious task of my catching up with notes.