Style guide - Sunshine Ale
Whilst I’ve yet to get unanimous agreement from the decision makers at the BJCP (the custodians of beer style semantics) I’m confident you’ll agree that ‘Sunshine Ale’ is a very real beer style. It probably dates back to the early Victorian era and is likely related to spring bank holiday excursions to the golden sands of Blackpool and Ramsgate.
Here at GADDS’ we brew a very modern Sunshine Ale based not on our house EKG hop variety, but on the classic US Cascade hop. This variety, developed from a 1960s Oregon State University breeding program, and first used by the Anchor Brewing Company in San Francisco, fuelled the craft beer revolution and pretty much defines American Pale Ales to this day. It’s a deliciously juicy hop, with a soft and balanced bitterness and bags of grinning citrus/pine aromas and flavours.
As Kentish brewers we tend to talk quite a lot about hops, and you might be forgiven for thinking we care less about the malt, so let’s address that now. Barley varieties are primarily bred for agronomic reasons such as disease resistance and yield. The growers’ catalogue of options is updated every year with the new replacing the old and, year by year, yields and quality inexorably improve. However, back in the 60s plant breeders developed a new variety, Maris Otter, specifically for its brewing capabilities, rather than its growing prowess. It was a huge success at the time and, despite the usual competition from new, cheaper varieties, Otter remains the popular choice for the small cask ale brewers in the UK. It’s such a good brewing barley we happily pay over 10% more for it.
Shesells Seashells brings together the biscuity, sweet Maris Otter malted barley and the tangy, bitter and citrussy Cascade hops in perfect balance. Add in a splash of sunshine, the same sunshine that ripens the barley and the hops, and there you have it, a proper Sunshine Ale.
We’ve canned Seashells early this year in an attempt to bring sunshine into our lives a little earlier than usual – we feel that would be a good thing right at the moment. Use “HERECOMESTHESUN” at the webshop checkout to get a kicking-things-off-in-the-right-way discount.
The summer can’t come soon enough – in the mean time I’m on the ‘Shells.