Victorian poet inspires rebranding of County Durham beers


Sonnet 43 rebranded beers

A brewery in the north-east, inspired by Victorian writer Elizabeth Barrett Browning, has embarked on a new chapter after rebranding its award-winning beers.

Sonnet 43 Brew House, based at Coxhoe, County Durham, has tweaked the recipes for its five core products and renamed each of them in tribute to the poet, who was born nearby.

The new range, introduced this month, includes The Raven Bourbon Milk Stout, Abolition Amber Ale, Impressment American Pale Ale, Aurora Pale Ale and Seraphim Blonde Beer.

The Raven Bourbon Milk Stout, at 4.3% ABV, combines oats and a multitude of malts for a sumptuous base. It is named in homage to the dark vision of American writer Edgar Allan Poe who is thought to have been a fan of Barrett Browning’s work. He borrowed the meter from her poem Lady Geraldine’s Courtship as a basis for his famous poem The Raven, whose title character has the same jet black colouring as the new stout.

Sonnet 43’s Abolition Amber Ale, at 3.8% ABV, was formerly Steam Beer Amber Ale. It is a tribute to Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s opposition to slavery and the poems she published in support of the abolition cause. While relatively low in alcohol, this ale has been designed to deliver a full body, with coloured malts adding a slight sweetness, as well as a warm, amber hue.

The American Pale Ale, which uses six bold American whole-leaf hops for an intense tropical and citrus flavour, has been renamed Impressment American Pale Ale, with ABV of 5.4% ABV. This dates back to Barrett Browning’s first known poem, On The Cruelty of Forcement to Man, which was based on the practice of taking men into the navy by force during the American War of Independence, known as impressment.

Her poem, Aurora Leigh, now gives part of its name to Sonnet 43’s Aurora Pale Ale, formerly India Pale Ale. At 4.4% ABV, it uses copious amount of hops from around the world for an earthy, fresh taste.

Barrett Browning’s first collection of poems, published under the title Seraphim in 1838, inspires the revamped Blonde Beer. At 4.1% ABV, Seraphim has a light and balanced flavour to reflect its new name, which means a celestial being denoted by light.

Sonnet 43 Brew House founder Mark Hird said: “A lot has changed in the craft world since Sonnet 43 launched in 2012. Now, with an established reputation and some awards under our belt, it felt like the right time to make a few tweaks and really show how much we’ve progressed as a brewer.

“While we have made a number of subtle enhancements to the beers themselves, the big difference now is in the overall branding, which we hope will help Sonnet 43 stand out even further from the crowd.”

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