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Good Old Uncle Sam

samsmithsI can’t believe that a brewery as well-known as Samuel Smith’s doesn’t have its own website, but I couldn’t track it down, even using the combined might of Google and Wikipedia.  I did manage to find some useful information on a Tadcaster local website, but the fact that the banner says “Happy New Year” makes me wonder how regularly that site is updated!

When I lived in South Yorkshire we used to go to a number of pubs that sold Sam Smiths beers, and as I recall, it was always quite drinkable, though in those days (before University) I probably didn’t care what beer I was drinking as long as it had the desired effect!  I lived in Dallas, Texas for a year back in the 1980’s, and one evening I was in one of our favourite bars (The Vineyard on Greenville Avenue for anyone who knows Dallas) and I mentioned to the barman that I was really missing British beer – he said that he thought he might have some that he had bought in ages ago, but hadn’t managed to sell it because the locals didn’t like it.  He disappeared and returned with a bottle of Sam Smith’s Pale Ale – the trouble was it had been sitting at the back of a fridge for yonks and was ice cold – I had to wait for it to warm up before I could appreciate it properly.  Unfortunately he only had a couple of bottles, and he wasn’t prepared to order another batch just for me.

Anyway, over the past couple of months I have tried a few bottles of Sam Smiths beers – and liked them all:

Sam Smith’s Old Brewery Pale Ale (5%).  Darker than I would have expected for a Pale Ale.  Slightly sweet, fruity smell, toffee taste with a bitter tang and a nice bitter finish.  The bottle notes say that they use organic seaweed finings, which I thought was appropriate since I drank this with a fish pie – although I think the beer had too powerful a taste for that, and overpowered the fish a bit.  I was also interested to see Carbon Dioxide on the list of ingredients.  I’m sure that lots of brewers add CO2 to non-bottle-conditioned beers, but I don’t recall seeing it in an ingredients list before.

Sam Smith’s Oatmeal Stout (5%).  One of my favourite beer styles, and this is a very good example of the style.  Black, with a creamy head.  A malty smell, but not burnt like some stouts are.  Smooth creamy taste – bitter, but with quite a bit of underlying sweetness and a roasted malt flavour – maybe a hint of coffee in there as well.  Very nice indeed.

Sam Smith’s Taddy Porter (5%).  Another favourite style, and I enjoyed this one as well.  Very dark, full bodied with a creamy head.  Roasted malt smell, very intense taste – manages to be both dry and sweet at the same time – tangy, toasty, creamy – a little sweet, but nice all the same.

Sam Smith’s India Ale (5%).  Pale amber -“the colour of a golden sunset” according to the bottle notes.  A strong hoppy smell – claims to use British hops.  A strong, bitter taste, very hoppy, and again with quite a bit of sweetness underlying the bitterness – and a long bitter-sweet finish.  The bottle notes suggest drinking this beer with spicy food, and I think it would go well, although I drank it without food.

For any Sam Smith’s fans who live in London, have a look at this website that I came across that has a Google map of Sam Smith’s pubs.  Neat.

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