Tag Archives: Pale Ales

173. Kernel Brewery Pale Ale Simcoe Amarillo

Time for another substitution beer, this time replacing Bridgeport Blue Heron. Bridgeport brewery—formerly of Portland, Oregon—sadly no longer exist. What better excuse could there be to head to Colchester’s very own Yorkshire Embassy, the wonderful Victoria Inn, and to sneak in a beer from one of Threehundredbeers’ very favourite breweries, London’s The Kernel.

A pint of Kernel Brewery Pale Ale Simcoe Amarillo at the Victoria Inn, Colchester

Back in London, Threehundredbeers spent many a lunch hour enjoying eye-wateringly fresh Kernel pales ales and IPAs, taking refuge inside the wonderful The Lyric in Soho. Not to mention the 9am starts sipping Imperial Brown Stout at the brewery itself. So it’s always an emotional moment to find a Kernel brew in this modest provincial town city.

The Kernel Brewery Pale Ale Simcoe Amarillo tap at the Victoria Inn, Colchester

Quite literally every batch of Kernel Pale Ale is unique: everyone who works there, even the van driver, has their own brew day and gets to define the recipe. That said, there are some constants. This is a hazy, hoppy pale, based purely on Maris Otter malt and fermented with American yeast.

Yes, it’s deeply hazy, and that’s a good sign, CAMRA members. The beer is unfined, meaning it isn’t artificially clarified using whale sperm purely for cosmetic reasons (note to author: more research needed). Instead the flavour and beery, malty goodness go in your mouth rather than down the drain.

This batch is, as one might expect, deliciously citrussy, dry and with a crisp, bitter finish that lasts. That’s all balanced by a smooth, clean rounded body and tropical fruits from the Simcoe hops. It goes down a treat, so Threehundredbeers was straight back to the bar (mind the step) for another.

A superb pint in a great pub. There’s very little doubt that you’ll see more from both the Kernel and the Victoria in these pages in due course.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: The Kernel Brewery, Bermondsey, London SE16
Style: Pale Ales
Strength: 5.5% ABV
Found at: The Victoria Inn, North Station Road, Colchester CO1
Serving: Keg, pint

112. Samuel Smith’s Organic Pale Ale

It’s Friday, it’s lunch time, and the office is eerily quiet, so let’s sneak out to the pub for a well-earned spot of light refreshment.

It’ll be a good opportunity to try the Glasshouse Stores, one of the countless Sam Smith’s pubs that lurk around the nicer end of Soho, luring in passers-by optimistic that they may be able to requisition a pint of their favourite brand of beer within.

They can’t, obviously, as it’s all Sam Smith’s beers in here. That’s fine with us, because we’ve a fourth and final one to track down. This is the Organic Pale Ale, formerly known as Old Brewery Pale Ale, but rebranded a couple of years ago when organic things seemingly became more fashionable than old things.

Samuel Smith's Organic Pale Ale at The Glasshouse Stores

The Glasshouse Stores itself is a very nice old thing, or at least looks it. It’s a bit of a cosy timewarp, with its etched mirrors, acres of timber panelling, and warren of tiny rooms that you know are there but can’t seem to find a route to. It successfully manages to pull off feeling like a decent local boozer despite its location, and for that it is to be commended.

Pouring the beer from its satisfyingly chunky, generously sized bottle, there’s a big waft of enticing dark fruits, and the Organic Pale Ale comes out a very nice deep chestnut colour, albeit with a slightly alarming pinkish tinge.

There’s a big cream-coloured head, and indeed a lot of fizz due to the carbon dioxide added to the bottle, which seems a surprising choice for such a traditional style of beer.

It’s tasty though, that’s for sure, and full of malty sweetness and dried fruit. So much so that I’m actually reminded of a Barleywine, which I didn’t expect. The spicy English hops provide a big, satisfying bitter finish that’s very moreish indeed.

There’s a lot of depth and complexity in there, yet served well chilled it’s refreshing too, and thoroughly welcome on what was the hottest day of the year so far.

I stuck at one and drifted back to the office, but this is a beer I’d happily drink again. I happen to know it’s a great accompaniment to your traditional sort of pub food—fish and chips, burgers, that sort of thing—but I’ll save that for a cooler day.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Samuel Smith Old Brewery, Tadcaster, North Yorkshire, England
Style: Pale Ales
Strength: 5.0% ABV
Found at: The Glasshouse Stores, Brewer Street, London W1F
Serving: 550ml bottle

76. Palm Spéciale

Considering how close it is to my house, how youthful, winsome and alluring the staff are, and that it’s one of South London’s very few genuine brewpubs, I really don’t spend enough time at The Florence.

Still, a recent visit afforded the chance to watch brewer Peter Haydon at work, and to try this, a 5.4% Belgian ale. Perhaps this is not the most appropriate thing to drink just feet from where a fresh batch of Weasel or Bonobo is being boiled up, but the 300 Beers project is a harsh mistress. The choice is out of my hands.


Squinting through The Florence’s mood lighting, I can just make out that Palm Spéciale is a warm amber colour with a thick, foamy layer of froth on top. There isn’t a great deal of aroma beyond a few unmistakably Belgian esters.

The mouthfeel is dense and rich, if a little sticky, while the flavour is all caramel and toffee, and is reminiscent of Werther’s Originals. Interestingly, Palm Spéciale numbers corn among its ingredients. I’ve no idea how prevalent corn is among Belgian beers, but it does seem to add a certain complexity to proceedings.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Palm Spéciale is similar to De Koninck, but combined with the thick sweetness of Manns Original Brown Ale. In fact, this is another Belgian beer that manages to seem sweet at first, yet leaves a lingering, dry finish that lasts some time. That may well be the corn at work, now I think about it.

This is also another Belgian beer that I can’t help thinking needs a heftier dose of alcohol in it, say 6% or more, to make it really special. It’s a pleasant enough beer all the same, but I’m not sure it’s the sort of thing I’d go out of my way to find again.

That’s not a problem, since the aromas of malted barley and fresh hops in here have got me in the mood for a pint of something altogether more local.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Palm Breweries, Steenhuffel, Belgium
Style: Pale Ales
Strength: 5.4% ABV
Found at: The Florence, Dulwich Road, London SE24
Serving: 330ml Bottle

74. De Koninck

My first ever trip to the brand spanking new Flying Pig up in East Dulwich left me spoilt for choice in terms of which of the remaining 300 Beers to pick out of the fridge first. Clearly, this pub will be a valuable ally on our ridiculous quest.

I plumped for this one: a 5.2% Belgian amber ale, almost certainly the most famous export of the city of Antwerp.


De Koninck, meaning “the king”, pours a bronze, toffee sort of colour with a fairly small off-white lacing. There’s a slightly musty yet resinous aroma, which isn’t nearly as unpleasant as I’ve made it sound.

The beer is slightly astringent and light bodied, or at least seemed that way after the very smooth pint of Thornbridge’s “Kill Your Darlings” I’d enjoyed just minutes before. There’s a real fruitiness though, and a butterscotch sweetness, while those distinctive Belgian esters are present yet restrained. Strangely, De Koninck manages to be very dry and quite sweet at the same time.

5.2% is quite light for a Belgian beer, and I couldn’t help feeling this one needed a heftier dose of booze in it to really make it shine, but it was enjoyable enough.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Brouwerij De Koninck, Antwerp, Belgium
Style: Pale Ales
Strength: 5.2% ABV
Found at: The Flying Pig, East Dulwich Road, London SE22
Serving: 330ml Bottle

46. Marston’s Pedigree

I’ve had this poor old bottle of Marston’s Pedigree sat around for a little
while now. Amid a sea of Belgian Trappist ales and craft-brewed American Barleywines, it has been difficult to get excited about this relatively commonplace, corner shop-bought Burton Pale Ale.

That’s clearly unfair, as Pedigree is a very well-regarded beer and is something of an English classic.

Pedigree is nominally the second Marston’s beer to be covered here, after their very tasty Old Empire IPA, but in fact the company is something of a supergroup, owning the Jennings and Brakspear brands, along with Ringwood and Wychwood, both of whose wares we’ll soon be tasting.


Marston’s Pedigree pours a warm amber colour with a smallish off-white head. The bottled stuff weighs in at 5.0% ABV, a little stronger than the cask version’s more sessionable 4.5%.

Despite a fairly mild beery aroma, Pedigree is absolutely chock-full of flavours. It has a hefty malt backbone and a generous dose of English hop bitterness. There’s some light, vinous fruit and the distinct saltiness for which Burton ales are known, due to the famous local water.

Despite all those flavours vying for your attention, proceedings are remarkably civilised: everything is beautifully well balanced, resulting in a hugely drinkable, classic English beer.

Though I must have had Pedigree in a boozer at some point in the past, I look forward to trying it on cask before long, and I suspect next time I have a bottle in, it won’t hang around for quite so long. Good stuff.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Marston’s Beer Co, Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire, England
Style: Pale Ales
Strength: 5.0% ABV
Found at: Maxy Supermarket, Norwood Road, London SE24
Dispense: 500ml Bottle

24. Anchor Liberty Ale

Having been so pleasantly surprised by Anchor Steam Beer, I was impatient to crack on with the second in the triumvirate of Anchor beers in The Book (on which note, if anyone knows where I can find the Old Foghorn in London, do let me know).

Anchor Liberty Ale comes in a similar bottle to the Steam Beer, but with its very own sailor tattoo. Let’s see how it compares.


Liberty Ale pours a nice enough, slightly hazy golden colour, and is relatively pale even for a Pale Ale.

In our big yellow bible of beer, Roger Protz describes Liberty Ale as “massively” hoppy, and “an assault of pine and grapefruit”, followed by a “long and lingering finish”. He must have more sensitive tastebuds than me, because to me it just tastes a little bit hoppy, and a little bit plain, with something a bit funky going on in the aftertaste. That’s the bad kind of funk rather than the Nile Rodgers kind.

In some ways I’m not surprised to learn the Liberty Ale was inspired by fairly dull English bitters like Timothy Taylor’s Landlord and the Marston’s Pedigree I bought some time ago and haven’t troubled myself to drink yet.

It’s not a patch on the Anchor Steam Beer, and once again I feel I’m being slightly unfair in comparing one beer to a quite different beer that I just happened to like, but there you go, it’s my blog. It’s not a bad beer, but to my tastes, nothing to write home about.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Anchor Brewing Co, San Francisco, CA
Style: Pale Ales
ABV: 5.9%
Found at: Bossman Wines, Lordship Lane, London SE22
Dispense: 355ml Bottle

9. Coopers Sparkling Ale

This is the first of several visits we’ll be making to Australia, and I must admit to having been intrigued by this one since I laid my hands on it a few days ago.

Coopers Brewery was founded some 151 years ago by a Yorkshireman who made his way to South Australia, from whence comes this rather smart-looking and unusually-sized 375ml bottle. Let’s have a look.


There may well be a reason for the unusual size of the bottle, since about 45ml of its contents are pure yeast sediment. There must be an inch of the stuff here. It isn’t pretty, but it isn’t a bad sign. It does mean that there’s really no way to pour this beer clear, so I didn’t try particularly hard.

We’re left with a hearty glass of hazy blonde ale, which seems to have less sparkle than the name might suggest.

There is a slight effervescence, which contributes to a surprisingly light, refreshing beer, and helps to deliver a subtle yet pleasant hoppy bitterness direct to the tastebuds. Beyond that, nothing in particular about the flavour really jumps out, but it’s certainly drinkable stuff.

Whilst one doesn’t like to perpetuate stereotypes, I can see this being a good beer to be served chilled around the barbie, or perhaps enjoyed on the beach in a pair of budgie smugglers. More realistically for us Brits, Coopers Sparkling Ale would make a satisfying accompaniment to a good curry.

An enjoyable enough beer, and it’ll be interesting to see what else Australia has to offer as we drink our way around the world.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Coopers Brewery, Adelaide, South Australia
Style: Pale Ales
ABV: 5.8%
Found at: Waitrose, Whitecross Street, London EC1
Dispense: 375ml Bottle-conditioned

4. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

It’s straight back to the States for beer number four, and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is reputedly something of a legend around those parts. This is the beer that some say was almost single-handedly the catalyst for the resurgence of craft brewing and real ale in the US, amid a bland, lagery ocean of mass-produced Duff, Duff Lite and Lady Duff.

Interestingly it’s the first beer so far that explicitly asks to be served chilled, while many of the better beers tend to excel at room temperature. Whether that’s because Sierra Nevada Pale Ale expects to be enjoyed in the Mediterranean climate of Chico, California from whence it originates, we cannot be sure.

Chilled it is then. Let’s get this 350ml, bottle-conditioned Pale Ale and her charmingly folksy label artwork out of the ‘fridge, and crack her open.


There’s an immediate hoppy aroma, not unlike that of an IPA, though a little more subdued, as is appropriate for a PA with no I.

At this point I should confess that I’ve actually had this beer before, but at room temperature, and wasn’t blown away. There was a muddy confusion to the flavours, but I must admit that chilling it does bring everything together into a much tighter, smoother package. It also makes it pleasantly refreshing, even on a greyish March evening in South-East London.

The ale is much more subtly flavoured than the previous American ale, the Goose Island IPA, but in many ways is a lot more pleasant. Thankfully that sweetness that spoilt the Goose Island for me is completely absent. As the beer warms a little, some extra malty flavours come out, which turn this into a genuinely satisfying, drinkable beer.

This is probably even the kind of beer that could be enjoyed by folks who don’t actually think they like real ales, as it’s really quite accessible, and there’s very little about it that would offend anyone.

Good stuff, all gone in about five minutes, and I believe there’s another Sierra Nevada beer I have to track down before long. I look forward to doing so.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Chico, CA
Style: Pale Ales
ABV: 5.6%
Found at: Waitrose, Whitecross Street, London EC1
Dispense: 350ml Bottle-conditioned