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An American brewer chooses Freedom in Britain

The only British micro to specialise in lagers - Freedom, of London - has a new brewer, an American. He is Mike Fahy, who remains one of the principals of the award-winning Champion brewpub, in Denver, Colorado. Mike came to London because his wife has a job here at Guinness.

Freedom is only a couple of miles from my home, and right opposite The White Horse, London's most eclectic beer pub. The brewery recently hosted our local Member of Parliament when he launched a campaign for a sliding scale of duties on beer to benefit micro-breweries. Being a member of the governing Labour Party, he may get a hearing.

While at Freedom, I had an update on its Pilsner, its first product. In the brewery's three years of existence, this beer has varied somewhat. In this recent tasting, I liked its firm, crisp, malt character and perfumy, dry, hop note.

Freedom also has a new brew, a hop-varietal lager, at 5.5 per cent alcohol by volume. This is called First Gold, after the variety used. This is a newish British hop, a dwarf variety, with a citric, tangerine-like, character. I found Freedom First Gold fresh and creamy; with a spicy aroma; orange-zest flavors; and a pithy, lingering, dryness in the finish. One of the most satisfying British lagers I have tasted.

I also tasted an experimental dark lager, in the Munich style, from Freedom. This had a rosewood color, with ruby highlights; a soft, light but textured body; with flavors reminiscent of chocolate powder; and a toasty dryness in finish.

*Another supporter of the sliding-scale campaign is Dave Roberts, of the Pilgrim micro, not far from London. His products this year have included the assertive Springbock Wheat Beer (5.2abv). This honey-colored brew has the bubblegum flavours of a Bavarian wheat beer, with plummy fruitiness and a smoky dryness.

*Original Freedom brewer Alastair Hook is now at the neatly-named Mash, in London, and its longer-established Manchester namesake. These were the first American-style brewpubs in Britain. (As the saying goes, what Manchester does today, London does tomorrow). Thus far, I have most enjoyed a silky, smoky, medicinal Scotch Ale, but I am looking forward to Alastair's spiced Xmash Ale.

*More marketing muscle may be put behind a new German beer made for the British market: Holsten Pure 6. The number presumably refers to alcohol content, which is actually 5.9 per cent. The beer comes in a bottle designed to look like frosted glass, and I was assured by the PR person that all the "unpleasant" flavors had been removed. What "unpleasant" flavors normally lurk in beer, I wondered? Malt and hops? In fact, Holsten Pure 6 does have a pleasantly "sweet lemon" hop aroma and flavor, with a light touch of dryness in the finish - and a hint of harsh alcohol. Very empty in the middle, though.


Published Online: SEPT 18, 1998
Published in Print: SEPT 18, 1998
In: Beer Hunter Online

Brewery Review

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