Craft Cans

Adnams Jack Brand Innovation, 6.7%, and Clump Sagin, 5%

The development of 'craft' keg brands is gathering pace in the regional breweries of Britain.

Adnams Jack BrandWithin the space of a couple of hours one day last month, I received press releases from three major breweries all revealing their plans to join the keg revival.

Adnams was not one of them but it, too, has moved into this market with the launch of its Jack Brand range of keg and bottled beers.

The name was inspired by the discovery of a stash of bottles in the brewery cellar, as space was being created for the new-oak casks that are now used for Adnams' spirits production.

The bottles – traditionally brown and minimally branded in cream paint – carried the name of Jack Brand, the company's oldest trademark. This has now been exhumed in order to provide differentiation between the new keg approach to beer production and Adnams' cherished reputation as one of the UK's leading cask ale brewers.

The first beer to gain Jack Brand treatment was Innovation. This, as Adnams followers will tell you, is not a new beer. It was first brewed in 2007, to celebrate the opening of the company's new brewhouse. Now packaged in the new, smaller Jack Brand bottles, the 6.7% US-style pale ale remains a treat.

Pineapple jam and sharp grapefruit in the aroma precede a mostly sweet, mouth-filling taste carrying the same juicy fruit characteristics. A deep, silky-smooth foundation provided by the pale malt makes this a real mouthful of a beer, with the strength just apparent in the subtle warmth in the cheeks.

There's a touch more alcohol apparent on the swallow, then the bittersweet finish grows increasingly dry and bitter as tangy, leafy hops take over and linger on the palate.

Packaging Benefits

It may be that the smaller bottle suits this beer better than the old 500 ml, as there is a bit of poke in there and a half-litre may deter some drinkers. It may also be that the keg treatment is also of benefit, giving a more vibrant carbonation than cask beer, which may help the thickness of the malt and the sweetness of the taste from becoming too cloying.

The second beer in the new range is a recent creation. Clump Sagin has one of the most unusual names around – taken from George 'Clump' Sagin, revealed to be stalwart of the brewery's 1923 tug of war team – and is also out of the ordinary in being a rye IPA.

The rye influence is evident in the bright chestnut colouring and immediately striking in the nutty, spicy aroma. Hops, however, contribute the IPA part of the deal, with lots of cleansing resins bursting through the aroma, bringing with them hints of grapefruit and pineapple.

The taste is spritzy and plentiful for a beer of 5%. Nutty rye notes are sliced through by grapefruit and pine from the hops and those hops go on to dominate the dry, bitter finish, seeing off initial nut notes and lingering long on the lips.

As the first two beers in the Jack Brand series, these certainly impress.

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