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About a month or so ago I attended a CAMRA Tasting Session of beers from The Springhead Brewery. We had to sample four of their regular beers, fill out tasting cards (noting colour, texture, temperature, taste, etc) and then I had the job of producing brief tasting notes. This session took place at The Boat Inn at Cromford (a pub I visit reasonably regularly and have reviewed on here in the past).
Springhead Brewery started up in 1990 in the North of Nottinghamshire (near Sutton on Trent, Newark). It was the smallest micro-brewery in the country until it moved (in 1993) to a bigger site, still in Newark (still in Nottinghamshire). It is called Springhead because this was the name given to the particular bend in the River Trent where the brewery was housed. Springhead Brewery has continued to grow and has increased production considerably over the years.
Some of the beers you may find include Roaring Meg (a big, blonde beer at 5.5% ABV), Oliverís Army (a red/brown best bitter at 4.4% ABV) and Springhead Bitter (a pleasant, easy drinking bitter at 4.0% ABV). You will find these and the other Springhead beers around the country ~ though predominantly in pubs in the counties surrounding Nottinghamshire.
Springheadís beers are named in honour of things relating to the English Civil War. You will find names like Cromwellís Hat, Rupertís Ruin and Roundheadís Gold. Puritanís Porter is supposed to be brewed in the style of an old traditional porter (http://www.wordiq.com/definition/Porter_%28alcohol%29) ~ the funny thing is that the Puritans would never have ever drunk anything like this at all because these strict Protestants believed in abstaining from alcohol! The original name for this brew was Hole in Spire (due to a cannon ball hitting Newark Church), but was renamed later.
Puritanís Porter weighs in at 4% ABV and is brewed using a dark chocolate malt to give a roasty flavour and dark colour. Unlike some of Springheadís other beers, this one is brewed and sold all year round.
***Look, aroma & texture***
Looks wise, Puritanís Porter is a very dark brown, almost black beer. When poured without a sparkler (a device that mixes air with the beer, adding oxygen to it) it has no head at all, but it does have a tan coloured head if served through a sparkler (some of us tried it with and others without). Aroma is predominantly that of roasted malt, with a little hint of liquorice and nuts. The texture (despite the darkness of the colour) is quite light, dry, smooth and surprisingly refreshing.
Puritanís Porter is dominated by a roasted chocolate malt flavour that continues right through to the finish. This is complimented by a slight sweet and sour taste. I could also taste a faint coffee flavour coming through as well. It has a very dry finish and a long bitter aftertaste, but is very moreish and rather pleasant.
~~~WHAT I THOUGHT.
Out of the four beers we tasted Puritanís Porter was my favourite. It was dark and had a very nice light texture. I liked the combination of flavours and was impressed with the way the sweetness and dry finish worked together to give a well balanced and drinkable beer. At only 4% it is a good strength for a Session Beer and would be easy to drink during an afternoon or evening out.
We followed our tasting session with a hot roast pork cob from the pub bbq! We also had a full pint of Puritanís Porter (rather than the half pint measures we have to have when tasting) and decided that it went really well with the apple sauce. Our porter cost us £2.00 a pint and was well worth the money ~ it was in excellent condition and looked rather nice in the glass.
Puritanís Porter is a very dark beer but its lightness may give it greater appeal. It doesnít have the heavy texture of a stout and has a bit more flavour than a Mild so it is a beer than can be enjoyed by a wide variety of palates. People who generally go for paler coloured brews shouldnít be put off by the colour and should give it a try ~ you may find it really tasty and very refreshing indeed!
I recommend Puritanís Porter as a beer to be enjoyed at any time of day and any time of year. It is light enough and refreshing enough for a summer drink and is dark and warming for colder nights. I hope you manage to find it in a pub or Beer Festival near you, and I hope you enjoy it too.
Springhead Brewery, Unit 3, Sutton Workshops, Old Great North Road, Sutton-on-Trent, Newark, Nottinghamshire, NG23 6QS Tel: 01636 821000 www.springhead.co.uk