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Adnams, Ghost Ship

Once upon a time there were two brothers, named George and Ernest.

In 1872 they bought a brewery in the sleepy Suffolk coastal resort of Southwold, and set about building a business their family could be proud of.

The plan was only half-successful.

Ernest applied himself to the task of crafting delicious ales for discerning drinkers of high and low estate, and did so well that the Adnams Brewery still flourishes today. George, alas, grew disenchanted with the life of a country brewer and took ship for South Africa, where he was eaten by a crocodile.

The moral of the story is this: the grass isn't always greener on the other side of the fence. And there might also be something hiding in it which could have you for lunch.

Ernest's lasting legacy is a modern company with a thriving portfolio of pubs, hotels, kitchen supplies shops – and, of course, a range of fine ales which are widely available from barrel and bottle. One of the best-loved and best-known of these is Ghost Ship, a complex pale ale steeped in history as well as a rich blend of malts and hop varieties.

Like all of Adnams’ ales, it has its roots deep in the Suffolk landscape – or, in this case, its seascape.

It takes its name from the countless wrecks which litter the seabed off the coast around Southwold. Dozens of these are the relics of doomed smuggling vessels, from an era when delivery systems in the drinks industry were a good deal trickier and potentially a lot deadlier than they are today.

Locals insist that on clear nights you can make out the spectral outlines of these ill-fated ships glowing dimly on the horizon, while the moans of drowning mariners drift in to shore on an easterly breeze. No wonder the folk ad Adnams give their beguiling Ghost Ship the spooky yet accurate sub-title: Hauntingly Good.

The Ghost Ship is an attention-grabbing gargle, no doubt about it. But being honest, this writer’s favourite Adnams brew is Broadside – a substantial dark ale, which has been garlanded with many prizes, unsurprisingly. For it is a joyous glass.

The bottled version weighs in at a thumping 6.3% ABV, and fills the nose with a deliciously rich melange of burnt toast and plum jam. The brew is infused with First Gold hops, which right from the first gulp give it the intense fruitiness and nuttiness of Christmas cake. Even if you aren't drinking it with your toes melting in front of a crackling log fire while frost whitens the mullioned windows of your thatched cottage, it feels as though you are - even if you are actually sipping it next to radiator in a 70s semi while watching the dog racing on Sky Sports 3. It speaks of an older and better world.

This week's write-up was provided by BeerBods subscriber Alex Murphy. A professional writer for 25 years and a devoted ale drinker for slightly longer, Alex turns a shilling editing copy and writing newspaper columns, books and speeches. He comes from Crosby, Merseyside, but lives in Guernsey. Sometimes tweets @murphywriter 


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