It has always amused me to see Newcastle Brown Ale in the USA. Mainly because it is almost always billed as a Micro Brew. Not bad for a product produced as 100,000 Hectolitres annually. In some ways I think it typifies the US attitude to beer in that there seem to be two types: Domestic and Premium. Anything which isn’t brewed by Bud, Coors, Miller etc. is, almost by definition, exotic and small (and expensive).
So it was with equal amusement that I spotted these for the first time. Apparently they are exclusive to Tenko in the UK and thus far I’ve only seen them in their Alfreton ‘Extra’ store.
Nestling among the imported US brews (none of which could remotely be described as ‘micro’ either, but there you go), were this quartet of Newcastle “Limited Editions”. Of course I felt obliged to try one of each. Regrettably, I can’t say I was impressed. I generally love US beers (the ‘domestic’ brands excluded) and I also like that any given brewer usually manages to have a signature ‘taste’ permeate all its recipes. Indeed, Heineken USA (for it is they) have managed to to this here. Which is all-well-and-good except I happen not to like Newcastle Brown Ale. I know there are legions of fans of this beer who would call me a heathen (or something more steeped in Geordie vernacular) and I’m not saying they’re wrong – I just happen to disagree! For me, bottled brown ale represents all that went awry with British brewing in the twentieth century.
Huge credit to Heineken USA for their attempt to wring every dollar out of the brand, but keep trying. Also, credit to Tesco for stocking them. The range of US beers on sale in the UK has dwindled noticeably since the halcyon days of Safeway (i.e. before they all became Morrisons). It is good to note the beginnings of a resurgence. Even Goose Island is showing up on supermarket shelves again after several years of conspicuous absence.