To my shame I’ve realised that I’ve never reviewed any Ards Brewing pale ales on this blog. Sure, I’ve cast my thoughts on the Greyabbey brewery’s stouts but the pales seem to have been overlooked. Not today my friend as we’re pale heavy.
Most of the beers in Ards’ portfolio are pales so if you come across an Ards range in an off licence or pub, it’s likely there’ll be a pale ale in there. I was pleasantly surprised to find a range from the brewery in The Vineyard bottle shop on the Ormeau Rd in Belfast so picked up a trio, new and old.
Befuggled was first into the glass, a 4.4% ABV pale ale which uses Fuggles hops. This type of hop is very much the grand-daddy of hops, being over 150 years old and sometimes unfairly gets a bad rap because of its age. Yes new modern hop varieties are all well and cool, but if you don’t know your history then you don’t know how you got here.
It looks a bit malt heavy and is very amber in the glass with an appealing floral whiff before you sup. Those floral notes continue on to the tongue but I’m surprised that they’re joined by faint mint and light green tea. I was not expecting that. The more I supped the more I really enjoyed Befuggled, to the point that I wished I had another in the stash when I finished.
Next in line is the 4.7% ABV pale Nove Ville. Your history fact for the day is found on the bottle’s back label, which states Nove Ville de Blathwyc is the 12th century name for Newtownards (6 miles up the coast). So now you know.
It’s not a million miles away from Befuggled in terms of colour but as it’s brewed with Tettnang, Huel Melon and Nelson Sauvin hops, expect quite a difference in taste. Nove Ville oozes tangy white wine-esque gooseberry with a little touch of tarragon herb on the tip of your tongue. Perfect for summer, that’s another one added to the rebuy list.
Finally, I can’t believe I’ve never reviewed Pig Island on here. Named after one of Strangford Lough’s smallest islands near Newtownards Sailing Club on the Ards-Greyabbey Road, it was the very first Ards pale from over ten years ago and now this 4.6% ABV beer is brewed with British Admiral hops. It’s maltier than the previous two beers and has a faint orange citrus aroma. That orange arrives more on tasting, sitting delightfully alongside a deep resinous bitterness and a touch of oakwood. Some may go so far as to call it a West Coast style pale ale.
All three of these pale ales are no-fuss tasty beers. No adjuncts, no fancy ingredients, no messing about. They’re straightforward beers for simpler times and at only £2.89 a bottle, less expensive times too.