May 22, 2015
While most of my beer-buying is done at the local supermarket (our locals have a fairly excellent selection) I came across Newcastle's new variety pack at a nearby BP station, where the proprietor goes out of his way to offer a modest selection of craft and import beers:

"Just let me know what you like, I'll try and get it for you, boss."

The “Best of Britain” Variety 12-Pack contains equal amounts of three ales, including two definitive new styles from the brand--Newcastle British Pale Ale and Newcastle British Session IPA--along with Newcastle Brown Ale, which has always been one of my “predictable, go-to beers.”  The three distinctly Newcastle offerings are intended to “showcase the quality and depth of the Newcastle-Caledonian partnership and capitalize on the growing demand for variety among consumers.”

So much for marketing strategy. My main concern would be how the two new offerings would taste, and I wasn’t disappointed.

It’s probably important to preface this review with the fact that I am NOT a big IPA drinker; in fact, I almost never buy American IPA’s because (for the most part) I find them over-hopped and overly bitter for my palate. I’m also not a big fan of some varieties of American hops, which seem to get shoveled into those IPA’s relentlessly. I know a generation of young drinkers have been told that these IPA’s are delicious. Good for them. Open a Bottle and Carry On.

Back to the Newcastle Variety Pack.  The newcomers include a Newcastle British Pale Ale (5.8% ABV, 39 IBUs) and a Newcastle British Session IPA (5.1% ABV, 45 IBUs).

I tried the Session IPA first—realizing that even at just 5.1% ABV, it’s not technically a Session Ale at all (needs to be 4% or under. If you doubt me, ask @D_I_N_G on Twitter). It had a lovely copper hue, manageable bitterness, and an aromatic nose; a nice balance overall--and as I was outside opening the pool on the first weekend in May--notably refreshing.

The British Pale Ale was actually a little better. A little more of the same, with a rich gold color, a little more body and a citrusy-finish that I found particularly appealing. The higher alcohol level was not really that apparent, but what was apparent to me was that I could drink quite a bit of either one of these ales.

I was happy to have come across them, but was also wondering how long these Caledonian offerings would be available. I was also wondering to myself “why can’t more American pale ales taste this good?”

I’m sure there are some that do. If you’ve tried either of these Newcastle-Caledonian offerings and want to suggest a similar offering from one of our American craft breweries, please send me an email or a tweet with your suggestions.


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