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Herevana – The Battle of the Best Bitter Beers.

Two English Bitters. A Sprig and Fern Best Bitter and Whistling Sisters English Bitter. I’ve had both these beers before, the former out on my travels a long time ago, on tap, the latter just about a year ago. But what a change and chance to do a side by side.

Sprig and Fern Brewery make the Best Bitter in Richmond, Tasman, 🇳🇿 New Zealand, it is unsurprisingly a Bitter – Ordinary / Best by style and has an ABV of 4.8% This can is 1.7 standard drinks in NZ

Whistling Sisters Beer Co make the English Bitter in Wellington, 🇳🇿 , New Zealand as a Bitter – Premium / Strong / Extra Special (ESB) in style at 4.9% This can is 1.7 standard drinks in NZ

Spring and Fern – Best Bitter – Proper aroma and a lovely looking beer, that dark toffee colour. Has quite a lot of lovely ‘Britishness’ about it, that slightly earthy, possibly Fuggles hops, and some nice careful malts bring a lovely balance to the fore.

The Pdubyah-o-meter rates the Spring and Fern Best Bitter as a 9 on the arbitrary scale. It really is a very decent Bitter that I really enjoyed. Simple done well and done good.

Whistling Sisters English Bitter. Comes with instruction to serve at a cellar temperature , which as you all know is colder than room temperature but not by a lot, just cooler than room, and warmer than a fridge, although I’ve been in some old cellars.

I’m expecting the same, but different… This one is defiantly and definitely Fuggles :-). A brighter beer than the S&F, but with the same lovely aroma, the head faded to just a hint, I’m not worried so much. This has a much more distinct and direct set of flavours with the hops really being themselves, bringing a low instant but comfortable bitterness, there’s less sweetness or softness in this too.

Exactly the same but different. What I should have done was got two glasses side by side, like the advert said, and supped at both. I didn’t do that and I have wonderful things to say about both and I can’t really make a declaration on preference, they are both quite lovely. If you like an English Bitter the S&F is softer and slightly sweeter the WS is really all about the hops and a lovely uncompromised delivery.

The Pdubyah-o-meter rates the Whistling Sisters English Bitter as a 9 on the arbitrary scale. This is a beer that is about the hops. There’s no mistaking intent or delivery. Takes me back to long nights in the pub talking job-jab about things I have no real influence over, like football results and if certain girls like me.

Whistling Sisters Brewery do good work for Breast Cancer research and Treatment – do yourself and them and everyone a favour and buy some of their beers. I know this is important, MrsPhil had a time of it (now clear).

Music. Only because it is about new music I listened to Benson Boone – Walk me home. an EP of 24 minutes long. Not quite long enough for two beers, and a bit lightweight. So then I listened to Oasis instead 🙂 Then Supergrass. I’m equal opportunities.

Herevana beers are those I drink at home, I’m not at some beer festival, like, for instance, Beervana, but am just in my kitchen, usually, dining room table, sometimes, or outside, occasionally, where I can take an average picture and write in real time about the beer that I’ve invested in, both in a monetary and emotional way.

Philip himself.

Silver Medal BG NZ Beer Awards 2022 and Champion British Ale, Brewers Guild Beer Awards 2016.
Brewed as an English Best Bitter style, the combination of five malts gives Best Bitter the ideal balance of malt sweetness. The addition of Crystal and Caramalt provides well rounded toffee and biscuit characteristics. 

Brewers Notes – Spring and Fern Best Bitter

Brewed with the respect a traditional style deserves, this Extra Special Bitter combines a healthy dose of toffee, caramel and roast malt character, balanced with an herbal bitterness from the English hops and berry notes from the English yeast strain. Pours a beautiful toffee amber colour with an off-white head. Match it with traditional English pub grub – Meat pie, sausage and mash, or a hearty stew. Malts – Ale, Munich, Toffee, Supernova, Roast barley Hops – East Kent Goldings Yeast – Lallemand London Yeast

Brewers notes – Whistling Sisters English Bitter

Bitter – Ordinary / Best

An Ordinary Bitter, or simply Bitter, is a low gravity, low alcohol levels, and low carbonation easy-drinking session beer with a pale amber to medium copper color. The malt profile can vary in flavor and intensity, but should never override the overall bitter impression. The Best Bitter have more evident malt flavor than in an ordinary bitter, and is a stronger, session-strength ale. More alcohol than an ordinary bitter. Less alcohol than a strong bitter. More caramel or base malt character and color than a British Golden Ale. In all cases, emphasis is on the bittering hop addition as opposed to the aggressive middle and late hopping seen in American ales.

Bitter – Premium / Strong / Extra Special (ESB)

The Strong Bitter, or Premium Bitter, is an average-strength to moderately-strong British bitter ale with a light amber to deep copper color. The balance may be fairly even between malt and hops to somewhat bitter. In America, the Extra Special Bitter (ESB), has been co-opted to describe a malty, bitter, reddish, standard-strength British-type ale. More evident malt and hop flavors than in a best bitter, as well as more alcohol. Stronger versions may overlap somewhat with British strong ales, although strong bitters will tend to be paler and more bitter. More malt flavor, particularly caramel, and esters than an American Pale Ale, with different finishing hop character.


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