Coniston Brewing Company - Bluebird Bitter
- ABV: 4.6%
- Serving Temperature: 53-58° F
- Suggested Glassware: Pint Glass or Mug
The version of Bluebird Bitter that Coniston exports is a slightly different recipe than the U.K. version, boosting the ABV from 3.6%, which is common for English session ales, to 4.2%, which undoubtedly helps its longevity as it travels. Pouring an attractive amber color with a persistent head of off-white foam, Bluebird is a looker in the glass. In the aroma, Challenger hops offer their unique mix of tea and wood, offering a bit of a cedar impression along with some spice and mild citric undertones. Look for some other fruity esters to lurk in there as well, hinting at apple, plus mild caramel malt notes. In the flavor department, the woody tea character comes through prominently while the malts offer mild caramel and a touch of toast. Expect a bit of a mineral edge throughout. English “bitter” beers are not particularly bitter next to, say, an IPA (English or American), but they do offer more of an acidic hop kick that other milder English session ales. In Bluebird, the bitterness is mild to moderate, hanging on for a moment in the finish with a touch of tartness and a hint of toasted grain. The brewery recommends a serving temperature of 58° F, and we agree. These low-ABV traditional English pub ales are designed to be served at cool cellar temperature (such as in pubs, via a handpump which pulls the beer up from a cask in the cellar), and colder temps can mute the flavors. Enjoy with roasted or grilled chicken, or a plate of fish & chips. Cheers!
The Coniston Brewing Company, with its roots in the hotel and pub industries, knows a thing or two about giving their discerning customers quality and service. The Black Bull Inn and Hotel was built about 400 years ago, around the time of the Spanish Armada, as a coaching inn, providing accommodation for travelers, coachmen and horses. The Inn is situated in the picturesque village of Coniston, stream-side and beneath the local “Old Man” mountain. “The Big Toe” of the Old Man pierces the Inn itself as a large piece of stone set in the wall of the Black Bull residents lounge.
Ian Bradley, son of the owners of the famed Black Bull, having studied and graduated in the art of brewing, took the reigns of the Coniston Brewing Company when built in 1995. In 1998, Coniston's first beer, Bluebird Bitter, won the U.K.'s most prestigious beer award, claiming the title of “Supreme Champion Beer of Britain” as a cask ale at the Great British Beer Festival. Make no mistake, the British know their beer, particularly pub ales and “real ales” like Bluebird—traditional beers which are brewed with living yeast left in the storage vessel (be it keg, cask, or bottle), thus naturally carbonating and conditioning the beer as it sits—keeping it fresh, lively and full of flavor. Bluebird Bitter set the bar high, and their subsequent beers have managed to follow suit in terms of character and appeal, winning numerous more awards through to the present day.
In the 400 years of history of Coniston’s Black Bull Inn, many famous people have passed through its hallowed portals to enjoy its hospitality, including Turner, the artist, Coleridge, the poet, De Quincy, the author and intellectual, on his way to meet William Wordsworth, and more recently Donald Campbell, when attempting his water speed records in his famed “Bluebird” jet-powered water craft. The film “Across the Lake” starring Anthony Hopkins, depicting the last 60 days of Campbell’s life, used the Black Bull as a venue. All have lodged at this historic Inn, and why not—the hotel provides a cozy, warm and inviting base for walking, climbing, sailing and many other activities in the English Lake District, and is simply a great place to relax and unwind. With 15 comfortable bedrooms and a world class pub serving true British ales, we can see why the Old Man decided to settle here himself. For more information, visit their website at www.conistonbrewery.com.
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