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Heresy it may be for a Beer Blogger, but when I think of Nottingham, I think of the Football Club – Forest*, that is. A team I have massive respect for, given their pedigree and our tenuous link with Brian Clough – a man who was as disastrous a manager Leeds United have ever had as a Genius as Forest ever had. A man who they could do with at the helm now as they flounder in the lower reaches of The Championship.
Maybe it’s because I have a bit of a blind spot when it comes to beers from Nottingham. One brewery that I had a fleeting encounter with a few years ago was Nottingham (as simple as it gets, no?) – their Rock Mild proving to be a home run from the left field at a beer festival a few years ago. Picked on a total whim, Rock Mild stunned me and my drinking partner (in the circular nature of this tale, A Forest fan, as it happens) into reverential silence; smooth, satisfyingly dark and with a massive burst of Blackcurrant to finish it off. Nottingham, brewing out of The Plough Inn, went into my mental vault of ‘Great Beers’.
Fast forward to this year, and a Christmas present from a relative, now a native of Nottingham – behind enemy lines, flying Leeds United’s Peacock flag over the River Trent. In his quest to grab me a ‘local beer’, a bottle of Extra Pale Ale is unwrapped – and it made my day.
Extra Pale Ale (4%abv) is one of those beers that we’ve all had a thousand times, yet still maintains a distinct identity. My bottle tasted so fresh, so spritzily full of life, that the aroma practically leapt out of the glass. Peaches, all peaches – a fruit-basket of sunshine on Christmas day. Drinking further, the beer’s sweet, digestive-led body sweetened up with a honeyed note that gave it a supremely long finish. Peaches and Honey. If that’s not going to work in a Pale Ale, then…
Yes, it’s uncomplicated. It’s basic. But it’s done well, and the whole thing just works. Two beers tasted, two knockouts from a small Brewery operating out of a pub in Nottingham. No buzz-words, no marketing. In fact, their gorgeous labels hark to times past rather than crowded futures.
It seems that the next time I visit, I need to go to The Plough and try the rest of the range. As for Forest, well…maybe doing the basics -but well – would pay off for them this season. I hope so. One thing’s for sure, however – the next time I think of Nottingham, a pale imitation of a European footballing giant won’t be the only thing that will spring to mind.
* Sorry, County supporters. Nottingham drinkers- where should I go and what should I drink when visiting?*