Thornbridge

No More Heroes XXXV – Thornbridge/Brooklyn/Oliver’s Serpent

This will be the last No More Heroes column I pen for Hop Burns & Black. We’ve been running this column since August 2015, which kicked off with the now defunct Fourpure Amber Ale. Our original aim was to champion beers we thought were underrated and eventually we started talking about music we loved and liked to drink along with these beers too.

That original aim went out the window pretty quickly, we just picked out beers we loved that we thought you would too – and we think we did a pretty good job of that. We even ran some pretty cool events, which included raising more than £500 for Mind – The Mental Health Charity last year.

But things change and we’re not the kind of folks to sit on our hands or rest on our laurels. We want to keep this column engaging and informative, so we’ve decided to change it up a bit. Our new column – Fundamentals - will launch in a couple of weeks' time. Its aim is to focus on a specific ingredient within a particular beer and find out what influence that has on the way you perceive its mouthfeel, flavour and aroma. I’ll also be rolling out a live version of this at the end of April, where I’ll be joined by my fellow Hop Burns & Black columnist and food sorceress Claire Bullen, so keep your eyes peeled for that one.

For now, we’ll leave you with one final, incredible beer with which we’ll toast this flaming ship as it bows gracefully over the waterfall of time. Serpent is a collaboration more than two years in the making that was born out of the minds of Thornbridge head brewer Rob Lovatt and Brooklyn Brewery’s inimitable brewmaster, Garrett Oliver.

Serpent began its life as a Belgian-style golden strong ale that was then blended with lees (leftover apple skins, yeast and byproducts from cider fermentation) donated by Herefordshire cider supremo Tom Oliver. The beer was then aged with the lees in Four Roses bourbon barrels for two years. After ageing it was artfully blended before being packaged in elegant, 750ml, Prosecco style bottles.

The resulting beer is a marvel: it can taste as simple or as complex as you wish, depending on what mood you’re in. It packs in layer upon layer of intricate flavours, recalling cider, wild yeast, vanilla, oak and bourbon. It can be enjoyed with little thought – but give it an inch of grey matter and it’ll take you several miles. It’s an incredible journey of a beer – and the time it’s had in the bottle since release, almost a year now, has merely improved it. Drink some now or hoard to drink whenever you feel it’s appropriate.

Music Pairing: The Stranglers – No More Heroes
We’d be doing this column a disservice if the last music pairing was anything other than this 1977 belter from one of the greatest bands to have ever existed, The Stranglers.

The beauty of The Stranglers is that, just like Serpent, their music can be as simple or complex as the way you feel. If you just want to enjoy the jangly punk riffs casted by Hugh Cornwell offset with the snarling bass of Jean-Jacques Burnel while banging your head, then off you go. However, delve deeper and you’ve got the complex, keyboard layers added by Dave Greenfield adding a prog-like depth to the track – one that even ardent punks love, but often refuse to associate with its long haired, bell-bottom sporting origins. It’s the perfect track to enjoy with a bottle of Serpent, whatever mood you’re in.

Find more from beer writer Matthew Curtis at his excellent beer blog, Total AlesGood Beer Hunting and on Twitter @totalcurtis. You can find the mighty Serpent at HB&B - get it in store or head online to get it delivered to your door.

#HBBAdvent Beer 7: Thornbridge Lukas Helles Lager (Derbyshire)

Thornbridge says: Helles is a traditional, elegant Bavarian style of beer originating in Munich. Lukas is straw blonde, full-bodied yet sparklingly light. This Helles exudes a subtle, freshly baked bread maltiness, balanced with an elegant noble hop aroma. The finish is clean, crisp and satisfying.

We say: We’re lucky to host an informal weekly gathering of Bermondsey brewers at the shop, who routinely drink us out of Augustiner’s excellent Helles lager on their visits. When Ben from the Kernel told us to get Lukas on our radar, we took notice - this is a man who knows good beer. I'll crawl over 50 good pale ales just to get to one perfectly brewed Helles - lager snobbery has no place around here. A testament to no-nonsense expert brewing, this is closest you can get to Munich without leaving the country and, as Ben can attest to, the perfect Wednesday night drink. - Glenn

Each night, we'll reveal the day's hand-picked beer from our Big Beery Advent Calendar. Feel free to comment below or have your say on Twitter or Instagram (#HBBAdvent). Find Thornbridge Lukas in store or via our online shop.

HB&B Top Three: Lager, lager, lager

So here we are, in the height of our Great British Summer and how is everyone quenching their thirsts? Besides the abundance of funky, fruity sours flying off our shelves, we’ve never before had quite so many excellent lagers to choose from. From your classic Bavarian Helles to NZ pilsners, you can wave goodbye to watery, adjunct lagers… Here are our top three picks.

Orbit Nico Koln-style Lager 4.8%
Just off the Walworth Road in SE London, Orbit started out in 2014 and Nico, their modern take on the traditional beers of Cologne, is a permanent fixture on our shelves. It straddles a lager/ale definition because, although it undergoes the lagering process, it’s made with top-fermenting ale yeast, making this a light and crisp beer with more assertive aroma and robust taste than you might expect.

Thornbridge Lukas Helles Lager 4.2%
We were alerted to the greatness of this beer by The Kernel’s brew team. When they come to ours for post-work drinks, they usually bypass the big hoppy brews and head straight for a cold lager. Lukas, brewed in Derbyshire, is a fantastic example of a traditional Helles made outside of Germany. It’s subtly full-bodied, bready and malty, whilst being effervescently light and absolutely smashable on a sunny day, a rainy day or any given day.

Augustiner Lagerbier Hell 5.2%
Although no longer staffed by the Augustine monks that gave the brewery its name in the 14th Century, Augustiner Brau Munchen continues the tradition of making classically German beer. With its mild, malty sweetness and crisp, grassy flavour, this brilliantly clear and refreshing beer might just be one of the best lagers in the world…

As selected by HB&B Assistant Manager Catherine Lockhart