Posts Tagged ‘Great Britain’

St Peter’s Ruby Red Ale

Company info:
St Peters Brewery


Bottle size sampled: 500 mL

Alcohol: 4.3%
Standard drinks: 1.7

Cap type: Non-screw

Cost: I picked this up for $7.99AU

Label info: ‘A rich, red ale with subtle malt undertones and a distinctive spicy hop aroma from Styrian Goldings. Brewed with skill and patience in one of Britain’s finest small breweries.

Historical notes – St Peter’s Brewery is located in a medieval hall in a remote and beautiful corner of Suffolk. There our beers begin their lives deep below the brewery with water drawn from a pure source – as it has been for over 700 years, essential for the full flavour and pure character of all St Peter’s beers.
Our beautiful flask-shaped oval bottle is a faithful copy of one produced c.1770 for Thomas Gerrard of Gibbstown, just across the Delaware River from Philadelphia. The original is now kept at St Peter’s Hall and is a rare example of an oval Eighteenth Century beer bottle’.

What the label really means: If this brewery hasn’t put Suffolk on the map, it sure has been well and truly placed on my mind-map of ‘must see’ places. I gotta see that medieval hall. I gotta see that magical mystical well from which the water is drawn. It’s created an ethereal-like vision for me that I just can’t shake.
I also love knowing that this bottle is a tried and true shape, and has been for such a long time.

The Hell-Cat review starts here

Label: …And speaking of that beautiful flask-shaped bottle….wow. This is the most beautifully designed bottle I have ever seen in my entire life and I simply can’t ignore it when reviewing this bottle’s label. Just holding this bottle makes you bow down and worship St Peter’s Ruby Red Ale as the most awe-inspiring beer of all time before the lid is even cracked. It is…just…wow. I can’t explain this. It fits neatly in the hand and just seems so right. It’s like watching a butterfly emerge from a pool of baby vomit, or a small Chinese man massaging your scalp – it’s just beautiful.
The label, in all its minutely displayed goodness supports this bottle with great enthusiasm. Its sits aloof, staring out to sea without the faintest hint of concern for the approaching ship sure to run aground on those jagged rocks dead ahead. There’s a little bird on the label, possibly a black-bird, a golden key enthroned in its chest. It chirps with a beauty that rocks me awake like church bells in a cemetery. There’s a ring of gold around the label but I don’t even notice it and I go back to holding this bottle in my hand, caressing its sweet, sweet neck ever so gently, rocking it to sleep and mouthing the words to ‘Islands in the Stream’ to an absent crowd.

I give it a label rating of 9 out of 10.

AROMA: More chocolatey than any other beer I have ever sniffed. This is very enticing.

Taste: GLASS – Very chocolate-like in texture and mouth-feel with an ever so subtle coffee bitterness that arrives as an after-taste like the postman who forgot to deliver that Lowes catalogue on the first route. It’s very enjoyable, very flavoursome, very hearty, and very full-bodied. It’s reminding me a little of Kilkenny in taste, without the creamy thickness.

I give it a beer from glass rating of  8 out of 10.

Taste: BOTTLE –
That distinct chocolate taste is there, minus the delicious aroma. It’s good but it’s not quite the whole experience. But, this is completely forgotten when you’re reminded that you are holding the coolest damn bottle in the whole damn world. This beer needs to be consumed from the bottle, I don’t care if I am missing any damn aroma. Hold, drink, caress, sigh. Repeat. 

I give it a taste from bottle rating of 8.5 out of 10.

Accompanying food: Definitely beef…perhaps a gently marinated steak.

Best season to appreciate: A genuine Winter-Warmer. The only difficulty I had reviewing this beer was that the room temp was 25 degrees +. It just didn’t seem right.

All-nighter beer? While I could hold this bottle all night, drinking it all night would be a little more difficult. I think it’s a bit too heavy…but the first couple would be amazing.

Other: My apologies for being MIA last week. I had an ulcer on my tongue that prevented any true tastings taking place. But I am back now and tonguey good.



Old Ruby Ale 1905

Company info:
Waitrose Limited

[No website listed]

Bottle size sampled: 500 mL

Alcohol: 5%
Standard drinks: 2

Cap type: Non-twist

Cost: I picked this up for $7.50AU

Label info: ‘A deliciously robust rich blend of hops and malt, including an English barley first used in 1905 called Plumage Archer’


‘Duchy Originals fro Waitrose – At Waitrose and Duchy, we share a belief in the value of British organic food, grown and produced sustainably.
Old Ruby Ale 1905 – This traditional ale was lovingly brewed using barley from selected organic farms, including Duchy Home Farm at Highgrove’.

What the label really means: Although I wish I was informed more on the Plumage Archer, I am intrigued by it’s long history. I’m also intrigued by the fact that this is an organic brew.
A little piece of text on the back of the label reads ‘Suitable for Vegetarians’ – which is a massive relief because damn those meat beers are a divisive lot aren’t they? Many a time have I rocked up at a vegetarian house party with a case of Slaughter-House Lager on my shoulder only to be met with disapproving stares. Good to know I can bring a case of Old Ruby Ale and know I am among friends.

The Hell-Cat review starts here

Label: Very, very boring. Simple as that, boring. It looks like a wine label…particularly an ol tawny port. I just can’t warm to this one.

I give it a label rating of 3 out of 10.

AROMA: Very hoppy, breathing enticing goodness straight up my nose holes.

Taste: GLASS – There’s a delicious caramelised, roasted flavour that rises up and belts you across the kisser on the first sip. It rolls across the tongue in gentle waves of smooth deliciousness. I am really loving this and find it incredibly flavourful. It’s delicious, sweet in flavour, and thoroughly enjoyable. Pass the Duchy on the left hand side indeed!

I give it a beer from glass rating of 8 out of 10.

Taste: BOTTLE –
I would suggest you stick to the glass with this brew. The Old Ruby is still good but has an ever so slight watery after taste. It loses a little of the over all experience here and not quite the experience.

I give it a taste from bottle rating of 7 out of 10.

Song of choice: Try this along side Johnny Cash’s ‘One’

Accompanying food: I imagine this would be well suited to pork…pork with baked apple and roast vegies. Bring it.

Best season to appreciate: It’s quite a refreshing beer that is suiting this warm weather really well. But, I see it sitting more as a Winter warmer.

All-nighter beer? Yes! I could drink this all night (if it weren’t so expensive).


John Smith’s Extra Smooth

Company info:
John Smith’s Ltd
North Yorkshire, ENGLAND


[No website listed on can]

Can size sampled: 500 mL

Alcohol: 3.8%
Standard drinks: 1.5

Cap type: Can ring-pull

Cost: I picked this up for AU$4.50

Label info: N/A

What the label really means: N/A

The Hell-Cat review starts here

Label: There’s not much to report here unfortunately. The label is a product of mass-production. It’s mostly green, with the words ‘John Smith’ standing proudly at the top, but the words ‘Extra Smooth’ is what really stands out. Why is this such a selling point? Had it been ‘Moderately Smooth’ would the company still be existing today? What about ‘Kind of Smooth’? I’m not sure… What I do like about this label is that it is kept fairly simple and uncomplicated. I’m assuming that is an upside down magnet in the middle of the design, telling us ‘Estb 1758’. Why a magnet I’m not sure but no one can deny the might of the magnet. It’s a label that looks like it was designed in or around 1938 and nothing has changed since. And that, has its own charm.

I give it a label rating of 6 out of 10.

AROMA: It’s a very subtle aroma with hints of roasted caramel and toffee.

Taste: GLASS – When I poured this beer I was surprised to find a very Kilkenny-in-appearance beer. There, before my eyes, were fascinating rolls of froth pushing through the beer. I guess I was expecting a golden, clear lager. Instead it was amber in colour and a very tempting creamy frothy head. This beer is called ‘Extra Smooth’ and I expected to get something smooth but woah. This is smoothness personified. It’s like drinking the froth from a cappuccino but not. It’s cooler and more beer tasting for one.
‘Smith’s’ is subtle in flavour with a slight tinge of bitterness but certainly not over-powering and very unlike Kilkenny. There is a delicious undercurrent of caramel and toffee. It slides back with the sweetest of ease, it’s incredibly drinkable and you’ll hardly notice you’re even drinking. The creamy head is the icing on the cake for this bad boy…it follows the beer the whole way down and acts like a little filter that each sip passes through.

I give it a beer from glass rating of 8 out of 10.

Taste: BOTTLE – Very similar to the glass and by all means just as delicious. It’s a bit more bitter, but it loses the creamy collar that I feel should really accompany this beer. I say stick to the glass where possible.

I give it a taste from bottle rating of 7.5 out of 10.

Accompanying food: This would sit well beside a light meat such as turkey, roasted with a side of cranberry sauce and baked apple.

Best season to appreciate: One for the cooler months.

All-nighter beer? If I was to judge this on appearance, I would have said no from the outset as it looks like the kind of beer that leaves me very sore in the morning. But, I’m not sure. The smoothness that John Smith creates has me all but convinced that this is definitely an all-nighter.

NEXT WEEK: Kosciusko Pale Ale

Newcastle Brown Ale

Company info:
Newcastle Federation Breweries Ltd
Dunston, ENGLAND

[No website listed]

Bottle size sampled: 330 mL

Alcohol: 4.7%
Standard drinks: 1.2

Cap type: Non-twist

Cost: I picked this up for AU$3.99

Label info: ‘Imported from England’ and ‘The One and Only’

What the label really means: Nuff said.

The Hell-Cat review starts here

Label: This is a fairly iconic label. It’s one of those labels that sticks out, is easily spotted, and is very readily seen in many bars. I appreciate it for the fact that it has an almost comic-book feel to it, enhanced with the blue Captain America-esque star in the centre. Within the star there is a small silhouette of the Newcastle sky-line. On either side of the star are a couple of gold medals that I suppose the beer has won over the years.
Over all, I don’t think the label is anything special. Sure it stands out and ticks all the marketing boxes but is it appealing to the average beer drinker? Not for me. It looks cheap and mass produced. And don’t get me started on the clear bottle.

I give it a label rating of 5 out of 10.

AROMA: A strong malty, hoppy aroma that smacks you square in the schnozz.

Taste: GLASS – Newcastle Brown Ale is a very smooth drop. It tastes malty and toffee-like and has a slight toasted burnt flavour. It is these flavours that combine to make this quite a heavy drink, like a steak in a glass. Thankfully the heavy nature of the ale is offset by very minimal carbonation, also contributing to this being very smooth. It’s simply dashing, ol chap.

I give it a beer from glass rating of 7 out of 10.

Taste: BOTTLE – This is a little easier to drink from the bottle as it somehow becomes lighter and less flavour intense. I almost sense a fruity mouth taste that adds a completely different element.

I give it a taste from bottle rating of 7 out of 10.

Accompanying food: I think this would sit nicely alongside a range of flavours found in a Lebanese banquet. I’m thinking lady fingers, hummus, and kafta mishwi.

Best season to appreciate: Due to Newcastle Brown Ale’s dark colour and taste, I suggest this is more of a Winter warmer.

All-nighter beer? Probably not for me. I suspect this would hit me with an almighty next-day punch.

NEXT WEEK: Samuel Adams

Cobra Premium - bottleCobra Premium
Great Britain - flag 

Company info:
Cobra Beer 

Bottle size sampled: 330 mL

Alcohol: 5%
Standard drinks: 1.7

Cap type: Non-twist

Label info:
‘Specially brewed to an authentic Indian recipe and double-filtered for a uniquely smooth taste’
‘The world’s most celebrated lager, a result of our quest for the perfect beer’.

What the label really means:
‘It’s a British beer but we want to make this seem like you’re drinking something exotic – Indian! Oh yeah and we’ve won a couple of awards’
(NB: The label shows that Cobra Premium has won the Monde Selection Bruxelles award from 2001 – 2008. I’m not sure what this means as the Monde website is hard to navigate but it looks impressive. Did I feel it deserved such high accolades?).

The Hell-Cat review starts here

Label: Unfortunately, I am not a big fan of gold (which this label predominantly is) – it makes me think of real estate agents and sleazy, hairy chested, open shirted car salesman. 
With a name like Cobra, I expected so much more. A Cobra attacking a poor, homeless family, or  biting the head off a tiger, or ripping the shirt off a weight lifter would immediately catch my attention. But this label has some Hindi script, Indian style picture engravings in the bottle (the etched bottle gets extra points), and that’s about it. A real shame.

I give it a label rating of 4 out of 10.

AROMA: This is one great smelling beer. It’s how beer should smell – beery. It reminds me very much of a Belgian style beer and I’m thirsty just thinking about how this will taste.


Taste: GLASS – This is nice! It has a slight bitterness that rolls off the tongue with a casual elegance. I note that the beer appears quite carbonated, but upon tasting it, it is the perfect amount of carbonation and a nice head is maintained throughout the tasting.

I give it a beer from glass rating of 8 out of 10.


Taste: BOTTLE – Excellent! I’m a bit surprised that nothing is lost by drinking it from the bottle. Every mouthful of this beer is a great experience. It has a real full-bodied taste and a great after taste. I just keep being impressed with every gulp.

I give it a taste from bottle rating of 8 out of 10.

Cobra Premium - glass

A word from the wife: ‘Not bad…the bubbles are tiny…like champagne. I could drink this beer from a champagne flute’.

She gave it a taste rating of 8 out of 10.

Accompanying food: I think this beer would sit nicely with Asian dishes particularly Thai or Vietnamese. These dishes would help push the full body of this beer and help appreciate it even further.

Best season to appreciate: This is another beer for the warmer seasons.

Time taken to finish bottle: 5 minutes – super easy  to drink.

All-nighter beer? Yes, I reckon it could be. I just might have to investigate further!

NEXT WEEK: Murray’s Sassy Blonde