Big Smoke Brew Co have been in the brewing game for almost a decade, having being founded in 2014 by New Zealander Andrew Craig and Brit James Morgan. Originally located in Surbiton in the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames – south west London to most of us – the brewers began their business in the former stables at the back of The Antelope pub. The Antelope became the first in Big Smoke’s portfolio of pubs around London and the south of England. In recent years they’ve also spread to opening taprooms in terminals of the UK’s busiest airport – Heathrow – serving holidaymakers that apparently obligatory breakfast pint whenever you’re having an early start to your vacation.
The company now has it’s own brewing facilities in Esher, Surrey, producing unfined and unfiltered beers in casks, kegs, and cans, and even have a range of gins, helping to cement their Londoner heritage. While their previous output of beer has mostly been above 5% ABV, as with almost every brewer nowadays Big Smoke Brew Co released their first 0.5% offering, Pure Shores Pale Ale, at the end of December 2022 – just in time for the influx of nolo and sober-curious drinkers that Dry January brings us. The brewer has chosen to use both Amarillo and Celeia hops in this pale; Amarillo will be a familiar name for many of our readers, but this is the first mention of Celeia hops to my knowledge. Celeia is a Slovenian hop which is the result of cross-breeding Styrian Golding, Aurora and wild hops, producing a plant that is mainly used for it’s aroma, and which is meant to impart both citrus and floral characteristics. However, from my research it appears the hop is not widely used and is only grown in small quantities – the commercial desire is just not there it seems. So if nothing else, it’ll be interesting to see what Big Smoke has managed to get out of this rare hop.
The beer pours a clear golden colour, with plenty of steady streams of bubbles visible. A short-lived frothy white head is produced as we pour, but this is soon merely an accumulation of bubbles here and there around the edge of the glass. There seems to be very little aroma to the beer, a clean background of malt, with maybe a hint of citrus far off in the distance. So much for the Celeia-powered floral and citrus.
If the aroma was disappointing, I’d say the taste of the beer leaves a similar impression. There really is very little flavour to it. A malty background, some hints of citrus, a touch of resinous pine, maybe something slightly savoury in the background, but really nothing else, and all very muted. The opposite of a Spın̈al Tap amplifier. The carbonation is at a medium level, but the mouthfeel is rather watery. The finish is short and, well, wet.
Big Smoke Brew Co Pure Shores Pale Ale does not amount to much. The initial look is promising, but the aromas and tastes are mere ghosts of what they could be. From the lack of hops present in the flavour of the beer, I think the brewer could have easily sold this as a lager and we’d be none the wiser. A real disappointment.
Buy Pure Shores Pale Ale
Big Smoke Brew Co run a number of bars and tap houses where I believe Pure Shores Pale Ale is available on tap – maybe it’s better that way than in a can? Nevertheless, you can also buy it online:
|Nutritional Information (per 100ml, taken from the side of the can)|
|Additional nutritional information not given. Boo, hiss!|
|Water, Malted Barley, Oats, Wheat, Hops, Yeast|
|Country of Production||United Kingdom|
|Brewer||Big Smoke Brew Co – https://www.bigsmokebrew.co.uk/|
Pure Shores Alcohol-Free Pale Ale Review
Very disappointing and lacking in aroma and flavour. Pale in every sense except the colour.