I couldn’t believe it when I noticed that I hadn’t posted a review on Bombardier Bitter. It is a regular feature in one of my local pubs and one I have drunk on MANY occasions. I think by now I am pretty qualified to offer my musings on this traditional, and rather famous, premium ale.
Bombardier Premium English Bitter is brewed by the Charles Wells Brewery. This is a family business that was founded in 1876 in Bedford and moved to the present location in 1976. The brewery, known as the Eagle Brewery, is apparently the fifth largest brewery in the UK and has been owned and run by the Wells family for five generations. They now supply getting on for 300 of their own pubs and 600 plus other outlets nationwide. They began bottling beer in 1996 and also supply beers for export abroad. You can even buy Bombardier in mini casks to drink proper beer in your own home!
Some of the beers brewed at the Eagle Brewery are Banana Bread Beer (a beer that really does taste of bananas at 5% ABV), Eagle IPA (a low gravity pale ale at 3.6% ABV) and Naked Gold (a seasonal oaty beer at 4.5% ABV).
*A Bit of Background*
Bombardier is the flagship beer for a campaign to make St George’s Day a public holiday ~ you can follow a link on the Charles Wells website to sign a petition and get involved. There is also lots of information about the different ways you can buy and drink it ~ Bombardier is a versatile drink that comes in cans, bottles and cask (they even do a smooth version.but that’s not really worthy of a mention!).
Bombardier weighs in at 4.3% ABV and is brewed using Crystal and Pale malts, combined with a mix of Styrian Goldings and Challenger hops. The strength puts it in the category of a premium or best bitter.
*Look, Aroma & Texture*
Bombardier is an amber to copper colour, with chestnut tinges when held up to the light. It has a decent sized milky coffee coloured head that is pretty foamy and long lasting. The aroma is hoppy (not the citrus hops I normally mention, but a kind of spicy/peppery scent) and fruity (like grapes or raisins), with a balancing maltiness. Texture is quite rich, yet remains quite light on the palate. There is also a faint spicy tingle.
The first flavour I got from my first sip was malt ~ a rich malt with underlying hints of caramel and toffee. This soon blends with flavours of raisins, blackberries and other dark, rich fruits. Add to this a hoppiness that develops and becomes increasingly bitter towards the finish. This leads to an aftertaste that retains that bitterness but also brings in a hint of spices and more vine fruits. The aftertaste is quite long and combines the flavours that are present throughout ~ the final mouth feel is pretty dry and still has a burnt malt character.
~~~WHAT TANGE THINKS.
It is a shame that Bombardier seems to be reaching saturation point in my local pubs. There was a time when it was quite difficult to find, but it is now everywhere. Some pubs serve it in a less than ideal state so many people’s experiences of cask Bombardier will not be a particularly memorable one (and maybe in some cases an unpleasant one).
Thankfully The Industry (a pub round the corner from my house) in Newbold, near Chesterfield, has it on as one of their long term Guest Ales at the moment. We pay 2.30 a pint for it and have found it to be well kept and rather tasty indeed.
When in good condition, and well cared for, Bombardier is an excellent example of an English Bitter. It is well balanced, full of flavour and with a good amount of body. The fruit flavours mix well with the malt and the bitter hoppiness makes it quite refreshing and dry all at the same time. I find it to be quite complex, but it definitely works well and is a drinkable beer. The alcohol content is still low enough to make it a creditable session ale too!
If your current experiences of Bombardier have been less than favourable I recommend that you persevere and seek out a good pub with a well kept cellar! I think that Bombardier is an under-rated beer that is better than most people think ~ I have enjoyed it on many occasions and would drink it again. It is quite a rich beer, so may not appeal to the lager style beer drinkers, but it has enough flavour and character for a Real Ale drinker like me.
Charles Wells Ltd
The Eagle Brewery
Tel 01234 272766
Tel 01234 272766