Re: Sugar Swap Bitter
Hey Guys; read this guy's waxing on the HSB......
I'll Have a Pint of HSB Please !!
A review by SRowlands on Gales HSB
July 12th, 2005
Author's product rating:
Value for money Good
Product Quality Excellent
Product package Good
How loyal are you to this brand? Very
Advantages: An award winning beer produced in my home village
Disadvantages: May be difficult to track down the further north you live
Recommend to potential buyers: yes
Horndean, in Hampshire, is a small village to the north of Portsmouth. It is actually situated on the A3, the main road that connects Portsmouth with London.
Long before the A3 was constructed, Horndean was a busy village for as travellers and soldiers made there way to and from the country's main naval town.
In the eighteenth century, Ann Gale and her family ran a bakery and a grocery store. Her son, Richard Gale expanded the business by becoming a corn and coal merchant, and then went on to acquire "The Ship and Bell Inn".
In 1853, Richard Gale's son, George Alexander was running the Inn, which by now included the famous brewery, and the family business continued to expand.
The Gale's brewery has remained in Horndean, although it now owns pubs throughout Hampshire, Berkshire, Sussex, Surrey and the Midlands. It's beers, ales and wines also make 'guest appearances' at pubs and festivals all over the country.
Gales produce a range of different beers, wines and whiskey, the most well known of which is HSB - or Horndean Special Bitter.
Walk into any of the many public houses that Gales now own, and you can be sure that you will find draught HSB at the bar.
Ordering your first pint of HSB is an experience, rather than a transaction.
Firstly, there is the anticipation. If you have read this review, read about HSB elsewhere or seen the list of awards the beer has won (see below), you know that you are about to order something special.
As you approach the bar, you will see the pump with the famous HSB logo on. There are occasionaly posters or marketing materials behind the bar, but a beer like this sells itself on reputation alone.
As you order your pint, you can be sure of excellent service. The Gales pubs pride themselves on their service, as well as their beers !!
As they pull your pint, the dark beer gushes down the side of the slightly tilted glass. This isn't your standard "lager" or beer where it has to be treated carefully, and trickled slowly down the side to prevent a foamy head forming. No, this is traditional ale - a hardy, earthly drink from the land !
As the pint is presented to you, a very thin foam will have formed on top, but this disappears very quickly. Any bubbles that are seen soon vanish too - this beer is hardly gaseous at all.
You pay your money (the cost varies, but is typically between £1.80 and £2.50 per pint), and retreat to a table - either inside the pub or in the typical English pub garden.
Here, back at the table, you get the chance to see the pint in all it's glory. The beer is dark, the colour somewhere between a standard pint of bitter and a stout, yet is quite clear. Any pint should have settled by the time you get back to your table, by a white film of bubbles may still appear on the surface.
As the time for the taste test approaches, the excitement builds. You lift the glass to your lips, your taste buds forcing their way to the surface of your tongue, fighting to be the first to be in the path of the imminent HSB wave.
Before the glass touches your lips, you cannot help but catch the aroma that wafts up from the beer. The smell is distinct, but not overpowering. It reminds me of a dew rich forest on a fresh morning, with a woody, fruity aroma. This serves the effect of further exciting the taste buds.
At last, the wait is over, and you raise the glass further so that it makes contact with your lips.
As the cool, (but not chilled), beer makes contact with your tongue, your whole mouth seems to come alive. They say that different areas on the tongue detect different flavours, yet with this every part wants in on the action !
Although this is actually bitter, there is quite a sweet taste to it - almost like treacle. This is combined with a fruity and woody taste, as you'd already picked up in the aroma, creating an overall flavour similar to that you might get from a rich, Christmas Pudding or fruit cake !
Again, though, this is not overpowering. You never fail to realise that this is a quality beer that you are tasting, and there is still a distinct malty, hops taste.
The lack of carbon dioxide in the beer makes this a very palatable drink. As the smooth, tasty liquid glides down your throat, it has very little "bloating" effect. Also, despite it's dark colour, it actually tastes and feels a lot lighter, hence many people who traditionally do not like beers and ales can handle this drink. Real Ales and beers are often regarded as a "man's" drink, but you will often see women enjoying this tipple, breaking the tradition.
One thing you will notice about HSB is that it is quite strong ! The alcohol content is measured at 4.8%, which admittadly is not that strong. However because of it's consistancy and lack of bubbles, it makes it very easy to drink - and quite quickly at that !
As I mentioned earlier, HSB has been acclaimed by many drinkers and institutions (such as CAMRA - the Campaign for Real Ale) alike.
These awards include...
1998 Silver medal - British Bottlers Institute
1997 Cask ale brand of the year - Licensee & Morning Advertiser Trade award
Gold Medal Premium Ales Class - International Beers, Lager & Cider Competition
Bronze Medal, Aromatic Cask Ale Mixed Hop Gist Section - The Beauty of Hops British Award
1996 Bronze Medal - Swindon Beerex
1994 Silver Medal - Brewing Industry International Awards
1985 Silver Medal - Strong Ale Class - Great British Beer Festival
As you've probably gathered, I am a big fan of HSB. This may be because I live in the village of Horndean, and have grown up with the beer, but it is probably down to the fact I haven't tasted a beer as good as this anywhere else !! If you enjoy beers and ales, I would strongly recommend that you seek this out. If you are fortunate enough to have a Gales pub near you, pay them a visit and order a pint. If you cannot get this in your local, you may find the canned or bottled versions in your local supermarket.
If you still cannot find a local supplier, check out the official Gales website at www.galesales.co.uk - you can also find details of the other Gales products available there.