Beer Reviews Lord Marples Ale
In the latest in my series of reviews about the beers from one of my local breweries I would like to tell you about one of their selection that seems to be the most readily available in my area at the moment. Over the past few weeks we have been out and about sampling beers in some of our local pubs ~ these pubs were all contenders in our local Spring Pub of the Season award. Out of the ones we visited some of them had beers on offer from Thornbridge and the name that cropped up most often was Lord Marples.
As a person who likes to support their local breweries it seemed churlish not to give them a try (and it also gave me a chance to try a quality control test by drinking the same brand in a few different places).
The “Baby Brewery” at Thornbridge Hall is so called because it started off as a kind of off-shoot from the well established (and award winning) Kelham Island brewery based in Sheffield. The Thornbridge Hall site can be found in the grounds of a small stately home in the Derbyshire village of Ashford in the Water. Formally the home of the Longsdon family, the hall has been used as a private residence and also as a conference facility, teacher training and educational centre. Since 2002 it has been the home of the Harrison family and since October 2004 it has been the successful site of a microbrewery.
Thornbridge now currently brew a range of excellent and very different beers, often using local ingredients and unusual recipes. Their present range includes St. Petersburg Stout (a strong and tasty Russian Imperial Stout at a mighty 7.7% ABV), Blackthorn Ale (a dry, easy drinking premium beer at 4.4% ABV) and Jaipur IPA (an award winning classy pale ale at 5.9% ABV).
You will find Thornbridge beers appearing more and more frequently at pubs in the Derbyshire and South Yorkshire area and are regularly cropping up at beer festivals nationwide ~ where they have already been recognized as award winning quality!
*A Bit of Background*
Lord Marples bitter is named, not surprisingly, after Lord Marples! George Marples was a lawyer and business man from Sheffield. He bought the Thornbridge estate and house in 1896 and was responsible for enlarging and renovating the house. Actually he was a very influential figure in the house’s history; under his instruction the lodges, cottages, landscaped gardens and private railway station were built. It isn’t difficult to see why the present owners and brewers decided that he needed to be immortalized in the name of one of their beers.
Lord Marples weighs in at 4% ABV and is brewed using Fuggles hops and dark crystal malt. The alcohol content puts it into the category of a standard bitter ~ a gold to copper coloured beer with a low level of carbonization, a good bitter flavour and a strength not exceeding 4.1% ABV.
*Look, Aroma & Texture*
Lord Marples is a reddish brown/copper coloured bitter with a creamy light beige coloured head. Aroma is actually quite understated, but what there is has a malt aroma (this time caramel tinged) with a slight fruitiness (citrus and a soft strawberry). The texture is smooth, easy to drink and medium bodied.
*Tange’s Taste Test*
Taste wise, Lord Marples has all the things I would expect from a classic British Bitter. It has a roasted malt flavour as its base, mixed with a honey sweetness, a slight floral hint and the fruitiness of oranges and soft fruits (strawberry, etc). This leads to a lemon citrus hop finish and a long bitter after-taste. The lingering feeling left on the palate is dry, yet with a slight underlying sweetness.
~~~WHAT TANGE THINKS.
Lord Marples is one of those beers that is easy to drink and goes down really quickly! It is not my favourite Thornbridge beer (I prefer the bitter coffee and chocolate flavours of their St. Petersburg and Brock stouts and the intense bitterness of the Blackthorn Ale), but it is a really pleasant Session beer (one that isn’t too strong and can be enjoyed over a whole evening without having too bad an effect).
I like the mix of the bitter and the sweet provided by the combination of the honey and the bitter lemon flavour hops. Thornbridge have managed to brew an excellent example of a well-balanced Bitter. It is tasty, smooth, balanced and extremely well crafted.
As I said earlier I have sampled Lord Marples in a variety of my local pubs and have consequently paid a variety of prices. In fact I have paid anything from 1.80 a pint, at the Sheaf View near Sheffield, right up to an astronomical 2.50 a pint at Cock and Pullet at Sheldon, Derbyshire. Usually though it seems to rest around the 2.20 to 2.30 a pint mark.
Sampling in a variety of pubs also meant there were slight differences in the taste and quality ~ more down to the skill of the cellar person than the beer I would assume. Generally it was consistent, but you could tell which pubs weren’t as competent or which weren’t selling enough beer (old and tired beer is often as horrible as bad beer). In a couple of pubs it had a slight apply sourness that wasn’t too pleasant ~ but mostly it tasted as good as my description!
So.a noble beer named after a noble man! Look out for Lord Marples at a beer festival or pub near you ~ or ask your landlord if he can get some for you in the future.
Thornbridge Country House Brewery