Officially founded back in 1698, Shepherd Neame are the oldest brewery in Britain, and has passed through the ownership of several different families over the years but still remains independent. Over the centuries the brewer has relied on it’s own water source, filtered through chalk and other minerals, and locally grown hops. Their beers are brewed with the aid of 100 year-old solid oak mash tuns, and traditional methods are used wherever possible. To help the company move into more modern markets, the stalwart brewer created a ‘craft beer’ wing of their operation, named Bear Island, back in 2018.
The name ‘Bear Island’ comes from an island that used to reside in the grounds of Shepherd Neame’s brewery in Faversham. A market town, the place has a great trading history, and over the years many interesting items of cargo were unloaded onto the aforementioned island, including ‘one bear and his keeper’ according to local tales. To celebrate this trade from all over the world, Bear Island eschews the Shepherd Neame tradition of using locally grown hops and uses imported goods from the States to produce more modern flavours. So, does this mean that Noughty Bear IPA will be a strong, bitter, west-coast affair, or a more complex, fruity, juicy and hazy east-coast IPA? Judging by the hops used here we’ll be getting a mix of both styles, with British Challenger hops being used alongside Amarillo, Cascade and Citra from the US. I’m certainly looking forward to it already!
Cracking open the bottle and pouring we get a golden coloured liquid with good clarity. A minimal white head is produced, and soon suffers from male pattern baldness. Giving the beer a good sniff, we get peachy stone fruit aromas, juicy citrus, along with malt sweetness and a touch of peppery spice. Delicious!
On tasting we get pine and citrus up front, planting bitterness on a backbone of slightly fruity malt. There’s little sweetness, but a kick of spice adds some interest, though we get a slight tang of iron after a few mouthfuls. Leading on to the carbonation, it’s at a fair level, and does it’s best to stop the body from becoming too watery. It’s not completely successful in it’s endeavours. We get a short bitter finish to the drink.
Noughty Bear IPA suffers from a problem that many non-alcoholic ales (and probably many full ABV ales) have; lovely aromas on the nose, but these do not appear in the taste of the beer, or if they do are flat and muted. It’s light and easy to drink, but then again so are many of it’s AF brethren. There’s nothing in particular to make this stand out from the crowd, but if the taste was amped up to near the levels of the aroma this would be a hit. I feel I say this a lot!
Buy Noughty Bear IPA
Bear Island’s brews are usually available on tap at any of the 300+ pubs run by Shepherd Neame. You might also find Noughty Bear IPA in a Tesco supermarket or a restaurant if you’re lucky, or check out the stores below for more buying options:
|Nutritional Information (per 100ml, taken from the side of the bottle)
|Water, Malted Barley, Maltodextrin, Hops
|Country of Production
|Shepherd Neame – https://www.shepherdneame.co.uk/
Noughty Bear Non-Alcoholic IPA Review
A story we’ve heard (or should that be written?) many a time, an AF IPA that promises so much on the nose but does not quite deliver on the taste. A perfectly fine beer though.