Bath Ales, Ginger Hare
Whisper it quietly in the West Country, but as far as summer tipples go, this beats a pint of Scrumpy hands down.
Bath Ales are actually based closer to Bristol than the city bearing its name. They are in the right place. Bristol has a rich brewing heritage but the loss of establishments like George's, Ashton Gate (now the home of Bristol Beer Factory) and Smiles due to the relentless march of larger brewers meant the city had its beery little heart ripped out a few times over the years. Several fine breweries in the region have put Bristol firmly back on the brewing map in the last few decades. Few of them can keep up with the pace that Bath Ales are setting.
Founded in 1995 by three friends, Richard Dempster, Robert Clarke and Roger Jones (the latter two both having worked for Smiles Brewery) Bath Ales have gone on to become one of the most successful British micro-breweries of the last 20 years.
It's probably fair to say Bath Ales is no longer a micro-brewery though. It's likely you've seen their trademark jumping hare on any number of supermarket aisles and they recently invested £1.1 million in a new 38,000 square feet state of the art facility. Their 10 millionth beer recently left the bottling line. The shiny new equipment is as polished as the smooth operation these guys run.
Whilst Bath Ales continue to grow at pace it's encouraging to see that they still haven't become some big, corporate outfit brewing up tosh to increase profits. Instead a commitment to decent beer and looking after their community doesn't show any sign of wavering. Whilst employing a number of youngsters through an apprentice scheme at the brewery, they also employ another 100 local people through their 10 tied pubs. The brewery plant is stream-driven and their spent grain is used by local farmers for feed. Spent hops and yeast become fertiliser. Their new site has its own pilot brewery to keep innovation at its heart.
This week's beer is brewed with traditionally fermented root ginger, which combined with some Goldings hops, Maris Otter barley and a bit of wheat malt, combine to make this refreshing little number. There are big wafts of ginger and caramel on the nose, and once sipped that ginger becomes a little more subtle adding warmth and spice to some bitter lemon and grassy notes from the Goldings. Served chilled, this is a perfect summer beer.
Whisper it quietly in the West Country, but as far as summer tipples go, this beats a pint of scrumpy hands down.