beer reviews

Safe as houses: good old Thornbridge

There’s nothing like a prolonged, enforced stay at home to make you reflect on which beers you really like.

In the past month and a half, since we stopped going to the pub, we’ve been buying beer from various places and have certainly found our favourites.

Even before the crisis kicked in, as we researched the offerings from various supermarkets, we’d reached the conclusion that canned Thornbridge Jaipur is a hard beer to beat for drinking at home.

Having polished off 36 tins between us, bought direct from Thornbridge’s online store at about £1.80 each, that opinion hasn’t changed.

Jaipur has been a star for 15 years now despite a period when “it wasn’t what it used to be” – anecdotally, the result of ill-advised recipe tinkering a decade or so ago; the misstep was swiftly fixed but that kind of dent in a beer’s reputation tends to linger.

For our part, we come across it on cask three or four times a year and haven’t been able to fault it, except to say that the combination of 5.9% ABV and moreishness isn’t helpful as middle age sets in.

For a while, though, we’d have told you that the kegged and packaged versions weren’t a patch on the cask. Good, still, but less complex and less… well, alive.

The cans, though, are extraordinarily good.

In fact, a glass filled to the brim with the contents of most of two cans is about as close to a pint of cask ale as we’ve been able to get at home.

The softness, the depth, the green-fingered freshness, the mysterious electricity – they’re all there.

Sure, we’d rather be in the Drapers Arms, but Jaipur and chunks of cheese on Sunday night is holding the madness at bay.

The other thing we crave is, of course, lager, and the same brewery’s Lukas Helles (4.2% ABV, c.£1.70 per 330ml) has also impressed us. It was always good but now seems to have ascended to the next tier – convincingly German-tasting, sparking-fresh, as wholesome as a hike in the Fränkische Schweiz.

12 replies on “Safe as houses: good old Thornbridge”

Having recently bought a mixed case with 4 cans of Jaipur I realised how good a beer it still is, so, when the 5l mini kegs were released I quickly ordered two. One was rapidly consumed and the other keeps tempting me but I’m saving it for my birthday. I’m not sure whether it’s my taste buds but it seems a little less sweet and a touch more bitter on the finish. You can keep all the Milk Shake Haribo IPAs, I’ll stick with this.

Had a can the other day. Agree with Ian they seem to have notched the sweetness down in favour of bitterness.

Think I’ll maybe buy some more as this goes on but want it say, like my favourite Proper Job (and that is very cask like), you have to watch the strength. Especially at Ian’s age. mean my age. (-:

They keep tempting me with new beers and offers. They have now brought out bottle conditioned versions of Lord Marples and Brother Rabbit which are hopefully on their way to me even though I’m still working my way through a couple of their mixed cases.

I’ll have to give it another go, the strength has always been an issue as I’m a 4-4.5%-er for choice, but the creeping sweetness was the main issue. The new Oakham Citra T90 cans are our go to at the moment. As close to a pint of cask Citra in the Brewery Tap as I’m likely to get for a while.

This and Fyne Ales mini-kegs of Jarl have ensured my alcohol consumption is not suffering from the pub closures.

Hard to disagree about Jaipur. One of my last pre-lockdown pints (the last was actually Kipling – we were off visiting my daughter in Sheffield, who turned up back home 3 days later), it remains one of my favourite draught beers and hasn’t disappointed in lockdown at home. Really enjoyed Jamestown as well. Lukas? It’s very nice, but it’s reminded me that although I do like lager, it’s not my favourite family of styles.

What I HAVE enjoyed particularly is Northern Monk – Heathen and Dream Lines Form 3 have been spectacular, Faith on the same level as Jaipur. Oakham Citra T90 cans also very cask-like, with normal Citra and Scarlet Macaw really nice, too. Then Orval – just such a wonderfully complex beer. I’ve enjoyed several Roosters beers, reminded myself that although I really love Isle of Skye Brewery beers on cask, they’re not quite so decent in bottles, and tried a couple of local breweries I didn’t know so well – all nice beers, but not great ones.

We had some bottled Citra last night, and it was also far more cask-like than any I have had before. I think they might have reduced the carbonation, resulting in a much softer pint. Will have to get soe of both versions next time to see what differences there actually are.

Proper Job also my choice for “about as close to a pint of cask ale…”, esp. if you leave it in the glass for a while before drinking. Freshness varies, but I’ve never had a bad one. I’m not sure if they’ve tweaked the recipe lately but recent bottles suggest more trad English hops than US. Crazily cheap in my local supermarket too (£6 for 4x500ml bottles)

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