Beer of the Week is sponsored by the Lion & Rose. Each week, we introduce you to a wonderful brew that's a little bit different and well worth seeking out.
Newcastle Brown Ale
One of my best friends introduced me to Newcastle Brown Ale when I was in college, and it's a beer we still share however many years later whenever we get together.
It's distinctive, certainly worthy of the slogan "The One and Only" that adorns each bottle.
The clear glass bottle means you can see from the moment you pick it up that this is a brown ale. It also means you probably shouldn't hold on to a Newcastle too long, though one bottle will lead you to consume the rest in relatively short order.
Pour this beauty into a tall stein or mug and you'll notice a decent foam at first, but it quickly dissipates into a thin lacing over the top of the glass.
The nose is filled with malty, bready scents with a touch of something sweet, almost cherry-like mingled in.
You'll get some of that sweetness from your first sip when a noticeable caramel or roasted brown sugar element comes up front, along with malt, almond or pine nut, and bread. You can see why it was nicknamed the "never bitter beer."
The mouthfeel is light-bodied and it feels clean. There's no viscous quality, threatening to leave a residue on the tongue. There's also a touch of malt again on the finish, but it doesn't linger, meaning it goes down smooth and easy.
The label tells you that Newcastle was intorduced in 1925 by a Colonel J. Parker (no relation to Elvis' Colonel Parker, at least that I know of). It took three years, though, before the brewer got the recipe right and it swept the 1928 International Brewery Awards, which accounts for the gold medals on its label.
The late great beer and scotch writer Michael Jackson (no relation to the singer, thankfully) notes in his "Great Beer Guide" that the marketing men at Newcastle removed the word "ale" from the label back in 2000 because it was deemed old-fashioned. This only happened in England, and not the rest of the world, which apparently appreciates ale more than "mad men." The word was restored a few years later without any fanfare when the change in the label produced no difference in sales. Thankfully, those geniuses did not suggest the brewery change the formula for what goes inside the bottle.
Though the beer is on the sweet side, it does pair well with a great many bold=flavored dishes. At the Lion and Rose, it would partner nicely with Hackney Hot Wings, Bangers and Mash, Beggars Pouches with four cheeses inside, the Pub Burger and the Whiskey Steak. In other words, it likes food as much as you and I do.
The Lion and Rose has draught Newcastle Brown Ale for various prices depending on the size you want.