Brookfield Brewing Company has unveiled Lionheart, an artisan premium ale brewed to a 12th-century-style recipe.
The 4.5% ABV amber ale is brewed at Robinsons Brewery in Stockport, Cheshire, made with the addition of wild-harvested sweet gale.
Described as “the saffron of the brewing industry”, gale was used in place of hops in the 12th and 13th centuries and provides a twist of sweet bitterness. A scarce, wild crop, it grows in peaty, boggy soil, often former areas of forest as the roots left behind hold in water.
Now combined with English farm-grown Goldings and Challenger hops, the ale is fermented in open fermenters which would have been widely used in the 12th century. They are no longer in widescale use by brewers who moved to conical stainless steel a century ago.
Named after 12th-century king Richard the Lionheart, it has initially been released in 500ml flint bottles and will be available in cask in the new year.
Brookfield founder and managing director Nigel McNally, formerly managing director of leading brewer Wells & Young’s, said: “We wanted a premium ale with a classic rich and distinct English flavour combining both heritage and contemporary brewing, but different to the overly hoppy beers coming out of the modern microbreweries.
“The key thing is, it is a pleasure to drink this fantastic beer. Some of the beers coming onto the market at the moment are proving a challenge to drink more than a sip.
“We also wanted a beer that would reflect the spirit of Richard – forging its own path, showing the courage to be an original – and we think we have achieved it.
“Lionheart is a fantastic brand name for a beer and one that resonates with drinkers every time they watch an England player on TV or see one in the media.”
The tasting notes from head brewer Richard Sharpe describe Lionheart as: “Visually, this English artisan premium ale appears dark gold or copper with extremely good clarity. The scent resembles malt, toast and hints of nut and spice. The unique flavour inspired by history reflects sweet malty fruit, balanced by a bitter, and almost tangy aftertaste coming from the use of sweet gale.”