It's an evening of beer. One may even call it beer o'clock in the household. Well, one might, one might not. I'm calling it time for beer because I like long sentences. Tonight it is the turn of another from the Shepherd Neame stable: Up and Under, which looks to be made for rugby fans. No, really.
I'm no rugby fan, but I likes my ale and I seem to enjoy it being of a Kentish pedigree so...
Straight away you know what you're getting as the bottle is clear glass, and so you can see the dark hue of the amber ale, and with it being Shepherd Neame you know that there's going to be some spicy hops in there balanced with mellow malt. On opening you get a hiss rather the snick that I've come to expect of the brand, so that was different. Pours well with attempts at a head but this was avoided and so there was just the light froth that I find more appealing. What head there was formed vigorously, quickly and then dissipated just as swiftly. Musty aroma mixed with sweetness and the definite hint of the 3.8% ABV punch lurking in the deepness, it is very similar to malt loaf and raisins actually.
First taste is warming and sparkly with the carbonation. No surprises but equally not disappointing. The initial burst of hops, warming and spicy, gives way to a spicy malt flavour that rolls around the mouth without being soft or sharp. Despite finishing on a rather bitter note of a second wave of hops it actually fades to a toffee aftertaste leaving a caramel-like texture in the mouth. More the soft and liquid caramel of Cadbury's than the hard and sweet caramel of Nestle (which is for the best as the latter haven't been tasted for many years). As one goes further and deeper into the ale the spice remains but the bitterness continues to fade from that first hit, as one would expect, until you are left with an ale clearly designed for drinking outside and in wind and possible rain. As a consequence, this is one for the terraces or a rainy day.
Enjoy best when shouting yourself hoarse at a local game where there isn't so much a stadium as there is a pitch, in the gathering gloom of autumn as the nights draw in and the warmth is fading fast. Couple with something like a hot steak slice or a handy drink of beef stock and be prepared for spillage as you raise your fist in happiness or anger at something said or done by the team or the referee. Sports! Or, instead, be daring and go out in the late summer and early autumn with a few friends into the garden and discuss harvest time. It's that kind of ale.