Archive for the ‘england’ Category

Figure 1. Shepherd Neame Spitfire


English beers are as varied and numerous as the accents encountered on a tiki tour around the country.  Shepherd Neame contribute to the plethora of beverages with brews such as Bishop’s Finger, Canterbury Jack, 4-4-2 and Spitfire.  Spitfire is a relative newcomer to “Britain’s Oldest Brewer” (Shepherd Neame website, 2010), having been introduced in 1990 to commemorate the Battle of Britain 50 years earlier (Spitfire website, 2010).  Spitfire is a 4.5% alc. vol. Kentish Ale

The marketing of Spitfire Kentish ale appears to rely strongly on Britain’s patriotic sensibilities harking back to the Second World War, indeed naming itself “The Bottle of Britain” (Spitfire website, 2010).  The website has a wartime feel and ads show images of unfortunate German soldiers and brave, Dad’s Army style photos of plucky British soldiers (Spitfire ads, 2010)


This experiment was designed to investigate numerous characteristics of Shepherd Neame Spitfire including, but not limited to, aroma, flavor, colour, satisfaction and vessel design.


A 500 ml bottle of Shepherd Neame Spitfire was obtained from a local bottle store for NZ$7.50.  The bottle was refrigerated to 4oC, then allowed to warm to 7oC before the cap of the bottle was removed under controlled conditions using a bottle cap leveraging device.  The contents of the bottle were decanted into a clean glass vessel.  Aroma was evaluated by smelling the beer.  Flavour was analysed by tasting the beer and discussing it with a research collaborator at great length and, subsequently, satisfaction was assessed.  The glass was held up to a standardised light to evaluate the colour and aesthetic aspects of the vessel were considered.


Results for Shepherd Neame Spitfire are shown in table 1 below.

Table 1. Characteristics of Shepherd Neame Spitfire

Characteristic Result
Aroma Dried lime peel from zingy hops with a smattering of toffee and an undertone of shoe polish and a note of extremely dry dust on unpolished wooden shelves
Flavour Bold and substantial bitey bitterness with vigourous citrusey and floral flavourings which linger long after the liquor has been swallowed.  The bitterness is slightly offset with a hint of caramel and toffee
Colour A pale chestnut brown
Satisfaction Because the sample was not heavy, it could certainly be enjoyed year-round and would also make a solid session beer
Vessel Design A stout, white glass bottle is draped with a red, white and blue label in true English colours (see figure 1).  The vessel also sports a label commemorating The Battle of Britain (see figure 2)
Head A persistent head upon pouring remained until through the photo process (see figure 1) and after the first taste (over 517 seconds after pouring).  Remnants of the head remained to the bottom of the bottom of the glass
Drinkability 8.5

Figure 2. The Battle of Britain label


While Old Blighty may be a very long distance from New Zealand (and our soldiers died defending the Empire), Shepherd Neame Spitfire travels remarkably well.  The researchers agreed that if they were travelling past the bottle store where the sample was purchased, it would be probable that they would stop by and pick up another bottle or two.  It is beyond the scope of the current study to ascertain whether Spitfire is truly “The Bottle of Britain” from such a remote location.  The researchers resisted all urges to say (in the thickest, old-school BBC accent) “That’s one in the eye for you, Fritz”, or any other ridiculous wartime references.