Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more...
On most occasions a decent well crafted ale does the job fine and dandy - it would be churlish to ask for more and one has to allow room for a time when 'extra-special' is warranted: a birthday or wedding perhaps. An anniversary or holiday maybe. Or a Patron Saint's Day.
Now I'm no jingoistic-patriot head of any kind but Act 3 Scene 1 stirs the old blood in my veins as much as the next woman and I can't deny a deep love of England, and even the English. And since one of my many names was/is George, April 23rd is an excuse for something a bit special.
Since Bitter is pretty much the emblematic beer style of day to day Blighty, Extra Special Bitter must be the natural choice for St George's Day. So what is 'ESB' and how do I make it? Well, remember the tangy spicy balance we achieve between bitter hops and sweet malt when we brew a bitter? In the crafting of an ESB we increase the maltiness, increase the alcohol and max up the bitterness. My own little trick is to use far too much astringently bitter Goldings hops from east Kent - the bitterness produces a long satisfying finish - and temper the astringency by maturing the beer on a bed of resinous Fuggles hops. Add a twist of aromatic Challenger, a few weeks aging to mellow all that bitterness and away we go: a big beer in all senses of the word: rich, malty, blood red ale with tangy, spicy fruity bitterness, English hop aroma and a long, a very long, satisfying bitter-sweet finish.
So as of April fools day (ironically the day the man from Tesco wanted to come and tell me how to brew my beer), Dragon's Blood ESB will be available in all discerning ale houses across the land!
I see you stand, like greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start. The game's afoot:
Follow your spirit and upon this charge
Cry 'God for Harry, England and Saint George!'