Image courtesy beerlens.com
Profiled by Tom Becham for professorgoodales.net
If you take a careful look at the labels on a bottle of Worthington’s White Shield, right away you know you’ve come across something special. It states that the beer is an India Pale Ale, but also says that it is bottle-conditioned, and carries a stamp from CAMRA (the UK organization “Campaign for real Ale) declaring it “real ale” (pretty much the same meaning as bottle-conditioned).
So, a bottle-conditioned, old school English IPA? Count me in!
But first things first. Understand that if you are an American Hophead IPA Lover, you will be disappointed by this beer. English IPA’s are notoriously milder on the bitterness side of things compared to their American brethren. As well, they tend to be lower in alcohol content, as well (White Shield clocks in at 5.6% ABV, while most American IPA’s START at 6.5%). The flavor of most English IPA’s comes across more like an America Pale Ale in both bitterness and malt backbone.
So, keeping that in mind, how does White Shield stack up?
Well, the color upon pouring is a pale amber, with the thick fizzy head typical of abottle-conditioned beers. Thin trails of carbonation keep rising to the top of the glass, probably for far longer than it would take for you to down a bottle of it.
The aroma is sublime, with an herbal/earthy hop aroma (I’m guessing East Kent Goldings, with perhaps a bit of Fuggles, as well) wafting out over an undertone of toffeeish malt. None of it is overwhelming, and it all melds seamlessly.
The taste is well-matched to the aroma, with a more aggressive – but still mild by American standards – hop being most prominent. It is slightly flowery, slightly herbal, and… has another note I can’t quite identify. The caramel-y malt backbone is obvious throughout, and has slight notes of Asian pear on the mid-palate.
The finish is short and clean, as is typical of English ales.
All in all, this is a masterwork of the subtle art of English brewing. It won’t blow you away with flavor, but if you want a well-balanced offering that will go well with food and that you can drink for a whole evening without getting drunk, and also being able to enjoy the flavor, White Shield is an excellent choice. An added bonus is that the crown cap is about the coolest one out there.