Just got back from a few days in Suffolk. I'm fortunate that my parents live there (for the moment anyway, they are moving a little closer to me soon) and I always try to seek out some of the local beer when I'm up there.
One of my favourite places to get a pint of Adnams (and arguably the best place in the country) is the Lord Nelson in Southwold. It's situated in East Street, which leads down to the sea-front road, and on a nice day there is nothing better than standing outside the pub with a glass of Adnams and look out over North Sea. It's just perfect.
This review is not about the pub however, great though it is, it's about the beer.
Sole Star is Adnams new 2.7% beer, introduced in December 2011 not only to take advantage of the reduced rate of general beer duty but also in response to a blog post from Fergus Fitzgerald in the August enquiring whether customers would be happy to drink a 2.8% beer. It's brewed with a mix of Pale Ale, Crystal, Black and Munich malts and using Chinook - a good bittering hop, and Cascade - a good finishing hop giving bittering and aroma. So there I was in the Lord Nelson, it's natural habitat, with a pint all ready to go. I've had a few of these lower strength beers and found them a little hit and miss but had heard good things about this one. I wasn't disappointed. It pours a beautiful reddish-copper with a thin off-white head. The aroma is a slightly spicy and musty pine and orange, very inviting. Light and zingy over the tongue, it has that distinctly Adnams salty tang followed by quite a heavy resinous pine and citrus taste. It may have been the sea air getting to me but the image that came to my mind was of waterlogged driftwood floating close to the shore, and there certainly was a hint of wet wood. Bitterness and a touch more saltiness sweeps in afterwards before washing away to leave a slightly tart finish.
This is a wonderfully accomplished and full-flavoured beer irrespective of its low abv. It's taste is most definitely Adnams and it is most defiinitely a beer that you could and would want to drink all evening. My only regret is that I didn't pick up a mini-cask from the shop. I will next time!