Enjoying pints of Tetley’s English Ale at MacCool’s this week (see Dining, p. 36) just happened to coincide with my blasting through a bunch o’ bottles of Samuel Smith’s British beers as well. Remembering how fond I used to be of Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale as a grad student, I embarked on sampling as many different Samuel Smith’s beers as I could find in Utah.
Samuel Smith’s Brewery at Tadcaster, England, dates back to 1758. Even today, as Samuel Smith beers are consumed worldwide, they are brewed from a well that was sunk more than two centuries ago. Even the yeast strain used to brew Samuel Smith beers dates back to the early 1900s. It’s one of the few independent breweries that remain in England today. I’ll bet you didn’t know this: Samuel Smith beers are all certified vegan products, registered with The Vegan Society.
And who knew that you could find almost the entire range of Samuel Smith beers right here in Utah. Until recently, I didn’t. Some package liquor stores, like the one at 300 South and 300 East in Salt Lake City, carry most of the Samuel Smith line. Others, like the one in Lamplighter Square on Foothill Drive, only stock one or two. So it might take half a day to hunt them all down, but the results will be entirely pleasing. Here are some tasting notes on the half-dozen I was able to find.
A Gold Medal winner at the World Beer Championships, Samuel Smith’s India Ale ($2.65) might not be quite what you’d expect if you’re used to American-style, fiercely hopped IPAs. This Indian ale is mild and tame; no Cascade hop knockout punches. It’s good to remind yourself now and then what a nice balance of hops and malt in an IPA can be.
Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale ($2.70) is adored across the globe, and rightly so. Even if you don’t drink beer, the aroma a freshly poured glass gives off is alone worth the price. It’s a beautiful walnut-colored beer, and I swear that it smells of Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey ice cream. Walnuts, chocolate, bananas â€¦ they’re all there. This particular beer is a knockout with coconut-curry infused chicken korma.
One of the best beers I’ve tasted in months is Samuel Smith’s Organic Lager ($3.80). If the lager-style brew you’re used to is Budweiser, it’s time for a change. Lager malt is married to organic Vienna malt in this beer, along with organic German Hallertau hops. The Hallertaus make Samuel Smith’s Organic Lager a tad more zippy and hoppy than most lagers.
In old England and Ireland, lactating mothers drank oatmeal stout for its nutritional benefits. Oatmeal stout virtually disappeared in England around WWI until Samuel Smith revived it in 1980. Silky, velvety, soft â€¦ that’s how I’d describe the mouthfeel of this lovely brew. A small amount of oats are added to barley in Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout ($2.65) to create a rich but very smooth beer. I’d sip it with rustic black bread and a slab of bleu cheese.
Because of its richness and relatively high alcohol content (7.0 percent), Samuel Smith’s Imperial Stout ($2.65) could function nicely as an after-dinner drink. It has a deep chocolate hue, aromas of roasted barley and a deep, slightly sweet flavor. I’d be tempted to pair it with pepper steak or even dark chocolate desserts.
Global beer guru Michael Jackson has called Samuel Smith’s Taddy Porter ($2.65) “one of the world’s five best beers.” Who am I to disagree? Named for the train porters who original served and drank Taddy Porter, this is a dense, dark beer brimming with dry roasted-barley flavors. Something tells me that this perfect Porter would be lights out paired with Cajun-Creole jambalaya.