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Watching Olympics with brews from Brits

Emma Janzen, Liquid

Staff Writer
Austin 360
If you re in the mood for something on the sweeter side, try Young's Double Chocolate Stout.

The Olympics take root in London this year, and as the daughter of an Englishwoman, you can bet I will watch the games with a pint of British beer in hand.

If you've ever stepped foot inside an English-style pub grounded on American shores, you know Bass Ale, Boddingtons and Newcastle typically represent their homeland on the tap wall. Here, I offer a few alternatives that can be found both in local pubs and grocery stores, to help you get fully into the Olympic spirit. If you want to get really traditional, try one at room temperature like they do on the other side of the pond.

Start with a proper pint of London's own Fuller's ESB (Extra Special Bitter), an award-winning ale (two World Champion Beer awards and numerous other gold medals) that's worth getting to know. At 5.5 percent alcohol by volume, the crisp bitter was one of the strongest regularly brewed draught beers in England when it came out in 1971, according to Fuller's, Smith and Turner. Orange and toffee blossom both in the nose and throughout the constant balanced flavor of the confident ESB. The Dog and Duck Pub offers Fuller's on tap, typically rotating between the London Porter and the ESB.

Yorkshire's oldest brewery, Samuel Smith's (established in 1758), offers an array of styles from lager and porter to cider, most of which can be found on tap at the Crown and Anchor Pub or shrouded in medieval looking labels in the beer cave at Whole Foods where I recently picked up a few bottles. Aromas of fruit and honey lead the nose on the amber-hued English Pale Ale, which has a surprisingly bitter grapefruit-like bite for what is otherwise a medium-bodied beast with toasted coconut and caramel biscuit flavors. The Nut Brown Ale has a similarly lightweight body, making it great for those who might find the heavy roasted malts in most American brown ales to be off-putting. Subtle hints of savory walnut emerge as the liquid warms in the glass.

A Suffolk-based brew to check out is "A Most Gratifying Ale" (or so echoes the slogan). Dark toffee flavors cluck the loudest in the Old Speckled Hen, which is illuminated with hints of fruity banana and tempered with an earthy bread-like base. The Lion and Rose pub in Westlake offers the Hen on tap.

The pub also carries a beer by the bottle that's ripe for the dessert crowd. If you're in the mood for something on the sweeter side, try Young's Double Chocolate Stout. Wells and Young incorporated real chocolate into the brewing process to achieve a soft milk chocolate soul, which is shrouded in crystal and chocolate malts, with a moderate level of carbonation.

Contact Emma Janzen at ejanzen@statesman.com or 445-1772