The word pure is an adjective that can have several, various meanings, among these are: Chaste, virgin; unadultered; unmixed with any other matter; ritually clean… etc.
Of course, that’s in the real world. In Scotland, in conjunction with its adjective role, it’s also used as an adverb, hence pure dead brilliant (excellent) or conversely, pure mince (garbage).
So, which category does Samuels Smith’s Pure Brewed Lager fall into? Brilliant or mince…or somewhere in between – pure no’ bad.
The oldest brewery in Yorkshire is called, by a freaky happenchance, The Old Brewery and was founded in 1758 in Tadcaster where it’s home to master brewers, Samuel Smith. It’s among the last to still use the classic Yorkshire Square method of fermentation. This system consists of giant open brewing vats lined with slabs of slate which impart a fullness, softness and roundness to their ales.
The brewery is in its fifth generation of family management and throughout this period brewing methods have changed very little. The yeast used has not been changed since the early 1900’s, only whole Kent hop flowers are used, and the water has been drawn from the same well for over 200 years.
Samuel Smith is best known for classic ales and stouts, but they also produce what is described as “England’s finest lager” (although they fail to mention who described it as such) called Pure Brew Lager.
“Rich golden colour, delightful floral bouquet with lots of fruity hop character and fragrance.”
This beer pours a clear, pale yellow straw-like colour topped by dazzlingly-white head of foam which lasts a surprisingly long time for a lager and leaves some decent lace tracery on the glass.
The aroma is all about grass and cut hay with a big floral hop presence and a dusting of earthiness. Not much from the malt at all although there are some fruity elements and a touch of honey. All-in-all, a very pleasant nose.
It’s full-bodied with a reasonably lively mouth feel, although it’s not over gassy. The taste has a much more prominent malt character with hints of butterscotch, and lots of grainy, husky tones. The hops impart a dry, grassy flavour into the equation, with a slice of citric fruit too. It turns increasingly bitter towards the finish leaving a definite dryness in the aftertaste.
At 5% ABV, this is a pretty decent lager. Granted, it’s not in the same league as the classics from Germany or The Czech Republic, but for an English lager, it’s pretty good.
It’s quite complex for the style, and is an interesting variation on Sam Smith’s more usual, darker output. Having said that, it’s a little more expensive than most other lagers on offer (just under 2 quid for a 500ml bottle) and I can’t say it really justifies the extra expense.
In conclusion, a decent lager that’s worth seeking out and trying, and one I’d drink again, but not as a regular tipple.
Would I drink it again? – Yes, but not regularly…weren’t you paying attention?