Ilkley Siberia (from left to right)
Siberia may be made in Yorkshire but it owes more to global fashion than tyke tradition. Saison, a Belgian style that derives much of its dry, spicy character from the yeast used, is currently in vogue and Siberia (produced by Ilkley Brewery, in collaboration with beer writer Melissa Cole) is one of the UK’s finest examples.
Tasting note: Tart, slightly sour rhubarb perfectly complements the dry, spicy saison yeast.
Increasingly, British brewers are looking to Europe for inspiration – in this case, Cologne. The German city is famous for Kolsch, a grassy, clean-drinking beer, and this is Thornbridge’s version. The Derbyshire brewery has been at the forefront of Britain’s recent beer explosion, and Tzara demonstrates why: a beer that makes a virtue out of subtlety.
Tasting note: Soft, rounded bitterness and some gentle fruit flavours. Easy drinking.
Brogdale Heritage Apple Juice
Kent has more than its fair share of fruit juice producers but few have quite the same pedigree as Brogdale Farm, home of the national fruit collection, where fruit has been grown since 1533. Some of the more than 2,500 varieties of apple grown here make it into the cloudy, subtly sweet Heritage juice (the recipe varies depending on what’s available, but Worcester Pearmian and Pippins are constants).
Tasting note: Mellow, sweet, typically English.
Neige Premiere Ice Cider
A fascinating process produces this Canadian drink. Apples picked in the autumn are stored until December, then pressed. Next, the juice is left outside in the cold of a Quebec winter: the crystallisation that occurs separates the water from the must, which is then fermented. The result is a mouth-coating golden rival to dessert wine.
Tasting note: Intensely sweet but complex too: pineapple, citrus, some sourness.
There is a world beyond the Mojito. Perhaps this summer will see a revival of classics such as the Mai Tai – as served at Off Broadway bar in London. Its lavish Seven-Rum Mai Tai, created by The Manhattans Project, is made with Wray & Nephew Overproof, The Kraken Spiced, Chairman’s Reserve Spiced, Havana Club three-year-old and seven-year-old, Angostura 1919 and Woods 100. Strong but not boozy.
Tasting note: Pineapple, almond, caramel, some citrus but very little booziness.
£10, Off Broadway, 63-65 Broadway Market, London Fields, E8 4PH
Once Upon a Tree Chapel Pleck 2009, sparkling perry
The emergence of variable-quality “pear ciders” in recent years has had one undeniable benefit: the light it has shone on perry, Britain’s traditional pear hooch. Chapel Pleck is made by Once Upon a Tree in Herefordshire in the same way as a champagne (Simon Day, the man who makes it, is a noted winemaker), with a secondary fermentation in the bottle.
Tasting note: Delicate, medium-dry and slightly rustic: there’s lemon and brioche too.
£12 per 750ml bottle, available from onceuponatree.co.uk
Biddenden Sparkling Cider
Don’t let the homemade nature of the bottle fool you: this is sophisticated stuff, from a producer that knows both wine and cider intimately. They’ve been producing wine in Biddenden for more than 40 years but locally they’re also known for strong, still Kentish ciders. This, their newest, is impressively effervescent: great as an aperitif.
Tasting note: Dry, clean, very English.
£11.48 for a 750ml bottle, from biddendenvineyards.com
For all the excited chat about American craft beer, British brewers are hard to beat when it comes to flavourful low-alcohol beers. Here’s one that straddles the Atlantic: made in Somerset at Moor Beer by an American, Justin Hawke, this pale ale packs a punch thanks to fistfuls of American hops.
Tasting note: Piney, citrusy hops dominate. Refreshingly dry.
The Spanish are voracious gin-drinkers, and now noted gin-distillers too. Plenty of cash has gone into promoting Gin Mare but don’t let that dissuade you: it’s a really interesting drop, defined as much by the unusual botanicals used (thyme, rosemary, olive and basil) as by the more traditional flavours of juniper and citrus.
Tasting note: Like a classic London Dry Gin, but with a savoury, thyme-led undercurrent.
The name may put some people off but the flavour is impressive. Created by Duncan O’Brien and Steve Wilson, it contains a variety of ingredients, including ginger, sultanas, cinnamon and cola nuts. Those with more conventional tastes should try Raw Fiyah, the duo’s ginger beer, or the wonderfully bitter Real! Lemonade.
Tasting note: Dried fruit and citrus flavours dominate this softly carbonated pop.
£18 for a case of 12 275ml bottles, available from dalstoncola.co.uk
Will Hawkes is author of ‘Craft Beer London’ (Vespertine Press)