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Spitfire (Premium Ale Export) - Shepherd Neame Ltd

Not Rated.
Spitfire (Premium Ale Export)Spitfire (Premium Ale Export)

Educational use only; do not reuse.

167 Reviews
very good

(Read More)
Reviews: 167
Hads: 379
Avg: 3.63
pDev: 22.59%
Wants: 14
Gots: 55 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Shepherd Neame Ltd visit their website
United Kingdom (England)

Style | ABV
English Pale Ale |  4.50% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 02-21-1998

No notes at this time.
View: Beers (58) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Spitfire (Premium Ale Export) Alström Bros
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Reviews: 167 | Hads: 379
Photo of DaveBar
3.13/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

Purchased at the LCBO for just over $2.00 for a 500ml can. Served at 4deg C in a draught glass

A- Opens well and pours a 1" high white head that films out within 2mins. Very dark gold almost brown colour and filtered clear

S- Has that malty character you expect from an English ale.

T- Not so good. Bitternes abounds. Light and malty without much hops at all. Pretty simple brew that does not excite me at all

M- Dry and uninspired

O- Not so good. Will not buy again. Lucky if this one doesn't go back to LCBO.

Food Pairing

This not so good brew went ok with...... chips, pretzels or anything salty that will help this one go down.


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Photo of JackieKu
3.22/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

440ml canned version. 4.2% ABV. Poured into tulip.
A: Brown. Clear.
S: little malty. Not getting much here.
T: Medium malty. Low bitterness. Delicious and easy to drink. Dry.
M: light bodied. Medium carbonation.
O: A decent drinkable and sessionable beer. There are too many alternatives however.

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Photo of Fatehunter
3.64/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a thin head on a clear dark straw body.
The aroma is barnyard, damp hay, apricot and plum. Nice.
The taste is moderately sweet with a kick of bitterness middle to end.
The texture is crisp and fizzy.

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Photo of Andrewharemza
3.75/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

From bottle, This beer has a dark amber appearance, with toffee and dried fruit aromatics. A full and textual mouth-feel leave a lasting spicy bitter after taste.

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Photo of stricklandscottm
4.28/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Nice malty sweet flavor. Not too heavy on the carbonation and caramel hints not as strong. Mellow hops at just the right balance so as not to be the dominant flavor profile the way I like it. Very drinkable. One of my go-to beers when I'm indecisive.

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Photo of Lemreway16
4.45/5  rDev +22.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This was once a favourite of mine, I still drink it but there is a heck of a lot of quality beers and ales competing for top spot. Spitfire is in the top 10 English beers in my opinion. Problem with Shepherd and Neame is they produce so many excellent beers the drinker is spoilt for choice.

So its Spitfire for the session, Early Bird and Late Red to match the seasons.

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Photo of Bouleboubier
3.55/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

L: crystal-clear, burnished tawny liquid... fairly tall, downy head that slowly slinks away... might as well be no lace

S: fairly typical for these bottled imports from the UK - bread crust, grassy earth, mildly nutty yeast, dull dried apple, and a touch of black peppercorns

T: almost like whole wheat bread and a little drier than expected... in the middle, some soft notes of an unripe pear covered in field dust... toasty with browning dried hop cones on the outer edges, moderately bitter for the origin, with perhaps a tiny nip of dusty dried yeast... touch of sweetness and hop left in the aftertaste

F: clean, about medium-bodied, with a smooth, dry finish... quite easy to put back, and hardly filling with its quite mellow carbonation

O: though the taste may be ever so slightly off here (no bottle date), this has an assertive, pleasant-enough English hop flavor with arguably a slight edge over the clean yet depth-y malt foundation... you're still not gonna find many American breweries making a pale like this

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Photo of leantom
3.54/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Bro' got this and gave me one. Here goes:

A: Light, clear brown with sufficient carbonation. Some lacing and an OK head that readily dissipates. Nothing special - generic EPA.

S: Generic pale ale. Very grainy but toasty malt (some caramel). Lots of baker's yeast; in fact, the baker's yeast is probably the more prominent flavor. Yeast imparts some fruity, phenolic scents, like in Bass's pale ale. In sum, grainy malt and fruity baker's yeast.

T: Follows the nose. Grainy malt followed by bready baker's yeast. Good, but I think Bass is better.

F: Toasty, good carbonation.

O: Good beer. Nice to kick back with and drink with the folks.

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Photo of BigBry
3.75/5  rDev +3.3%

Draft pint at The Firkin in Toronto.
Dark orange/light brown with slightly off white head. Good looking pint with long lasting foam.
Some caramel malt and hop smells.
Light in smell and flavor, slightly nutty and grainy, citrus finish.
Low carbonation, medium mouth feel, smooth and slightly creamy.
A decent, session pale ale, as expected.

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Photo of Giuseppina
3.14/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Served in two times in half pint glass from 500ml bottle (Tesco), temperature 12°C.

Look: Deep amber colour with thick persistent off-white head

Smell: malt and fresh fruit

Taste: caramel and grassy, very pleasant bitter aftertaste

Feel: medium carbonation, medium body, quite dry and pleasant

Overall: pleasant drink, not particularly overwhelming and complex (not a bad thing) like all the beers from Shepherd Neame

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Photo of pat61
4.25/5  rDev +17.1%

Spitfire has a big British malt nose with some biscuit, earthiness, treacle and a hint of ripe fruit.
It pours brilliant copper brown under a rich, softly bubbled 1" foam cap that produces thick lace.
British malts also shine on the palate with creamy dryish biscuit, a hint of chocolate, light fruit, becoming slightly sweet in the middle with light fruit proceeding to a mild bitter and fruit on the finish.
Medium body, medium low carbonation

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Photo of BeerDrinkersWorldTour
4.65/5  rDev +28.1%

Drank in two servings from a Half pint glass in Northern Ireland (UK). Poured from a 500ml bottle at 8*C.

Appearance – Dark amber with minimal carbon activity in the glass. A single finger of cream head that dies fairly quickly to a lace cover and leaves web lacing down the sides of the glass.

Smell – Heavy musty and bitter hop aroma similar to coffee filters is the first and most dominant aroma. This is followed by oak and pine wood.

Taste – There is a clear burnt toffee like taste that combined with the bitter coffee element makes this beer taste rather like a coffee cake however in this beer there is a final bitter folourish that is really quite special. At the back there is a final phenolic smokey spice that, to continue the metaphor, is just icing on an already well make cake.

Mouthfeel – Reasonably full in the mouth and rather creamy! This beer has long lived linger and a lovely pinch that tingles in the gums and back of the throat for ages. A cracking overall sensation.

Overall – This Ale is really special. It is very like a bridge between a standard Ale and a good Bitter. This beer pleases, excites and satisfies in equal measures. I can best describe this by saying it is a great ambassador for British brewing.

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Photo of Samp01
3.25/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Pours a deep clear amber with a medium off white head. Aroma and Taste is sweet toasted caramel malt and grains, mild fruity notes and light bitterness. Palate is a medium crisp body with good carbonation. Finishes with toasted caramel malt, grains, and a mild hops bitterness. Overall a good easy drinking session brew.

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Photo of Ozzylizard
2.86/5  rDev -21.2%

$39.99 case at Shangy’s in Emmaus, PA
Best before Sep 14 11.2 oz bottle at 45 degrees/70degrees into standard pint
Aroma cold – none. Aroma warm slight earthy aroma of Kent hops
Head cold - small (2 cm), off white, creamy, rapidly diminishing to 2 mm ring and partial layer
Head warm large (6 cm), off white, frothy, slowly diminishing to 2 mm ring and partial layer
Lacing cold good – partial rings of mostly tiny to large bubbles the length of the level change
Lacing warm good – partial frothy rings 4 mm thick, mostly tiny bubbles
Body orange/amber, clear
Flavor cold – none
Flavor warm – some. Earthy flavor of Kent hops with malt coming through; no alcohol, no diacetyl
Palate light to medium, watery, soft carbonation

Appearance 3.5, Aroma 2.75, Flavor 2.75, Palate 3, Overall 3. Final weighted score: 2.8625
This bottle’s too cold. This bottle’s too warm. There isn’t one in my hotel room that’s just right. This isn’t my first dance with Spitfire and I must say it didn’t live up to my expectations. Both the flavor and aroma are very weak, not what I like in Kentish ales. It’s definitely short dated, sometimes marked on the bottle neck, sometimes not. This is not up to the usual standards of Shepherd’s Neame.

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Photo of captaincoffee
3.2/5  rDev -11.8%

Poured pint from the Royal Air Force Club on Piccadilly by Hyde Park. No, you can't get in, but feel free to live vicariously through me if you must.
Clear amber with half-inch head (overpour in large pint, so head would naturally be thicker with a different pour/glass).
Subtle nose...but of musty English hops and biscuit...but not much.
Taste had reasonable malt and slight hops, but again, not much backbone. True to style, which personally I find underwhelming, but a pretty good beer.
Typical English pub beer for downing a few. Good but not great.

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Photo of Metalbrew
3.82/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Brewed originally to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, this English Ale is a standout brew that pours a dark amber color with a creamy white head that doesn't dissipate quickly. The taste is a tad hoppy, but not to the point of overpowering with plenty of bitterness and it's a refreshing and pleasant Ale that goes down quickly and demands a second sip straight away. The beer takes its name from the famed fighter aircraft that fought over the skies of Britain during the Second World War. One of the finest English beers I've tried in awhile.

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Photo of woodychandler
3.95/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I am now committed to reducing, if not eradicating, my backlog of bottles. This one was part of a local, in-person trade with tone77.

From the bottle: "The Bottle of Britain"; "This 4.5% Kentish Ale was first brewed in 1990 to celebrate the Battle of Britain which was fought in the skies above Kent 50 years earlier."

One wag told me that its unofficial motto is "Spitfire - downed all across England!" Ha! If it is only "Kentish", what might a full-on Kent beer be like?

It was a small, 11.2-fl. oz. bottle, so I thought that I could invert it until the pseudo-cascade began and foam began approaching the top of my glass at an alarming rate. It settled into two puffy fingers of tawny head with good retention. Color was a solid amber (SRM = 13) with NE-quality clarity. Nose had a soft, buttery quality, undoubtedly from using hard water in its production. Biscuit malts were also present and I watched the head slowly fall, leaving some nice lacing in its wake as I anticipated that first sip. Mouthfeel was medium and the flavor was bready, biscuity, buttery and slightly sweet. I am guessing East Kent Goldings hops for a mild grassiness. In keeping with the style, this was much more restrained than its American counterparts and as such, was a nice change of pace for yours truly. I rarely truck in either imports or bottles and so this was a rare treat. Its relative mellowness was like a cup of tea after that coffee porter. Warming, the taste took on a nice nuttiness that only enhanced its mellow flavors. Finish was semi-dry and quite refreshing. Well done, lads!

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Photo of smcolw
3.57/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Modest head with some spots for lace. Gold color and nearly clear.

Creamy caramel malt start. Little hop nose.

This is quintessential mass produced pale ale from the UK. Low carbonation with a rich body, this beer leans to the malty side. I do catch a modicum of hop flavor in the swallow but it doesn't last long.

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Photo of Schmidts
4.37/5  rDev +20.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours with two fingers of tan, white head. Blood orange color Smells of Malts and earthy Hops. Tastes of Malts and marmalade, with nice earthy Hops and citrus. This is a world class Kentish Ale so glad it is in the states. I love the Plane and I now love the brew named after it!
Overall I give it a 4.50

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Photo of Ipetitt
4.23/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is what beer should look like. Awesome appearance with a deep blood orange/ amber color that begs to be drank. Moving onto the flavor, it's exactly what I would expect. Slight caramel flavor, marmalade and spice. It is smooth and slightly creamy. This is one of the few British beers with full body flavor and easy to drink that I enjoyed. I hope to see more of this beer now that it is available here in the States.

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Photo of Tybo
4.36/5  rDev +20.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

I ordered this one because it was a different style - The Kentish Ale. This was really hard to compare to any other English Style Ales that I have had before. There was a really sweet - deep malty note to this beer but a solid hop not on the back end. Really unique beer and easy to drink with a lower ABV.

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Photo of TBone2
4.33/5  rDev +19.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A wonderful flavor, I had this beer in the UK and it was awesome. You really get the spicy earthy from the Kent Golding hops. A great malt backbone typical of good British Premium Bitters. Color is blood orange and the Union Jack tap handle really stands out.

I enjoyed this with my Fish and Chips at British Beer Company Framingham , MA.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.09/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from an 11.2oz bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a light brown color, with a short off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains caramelized malts, honey, some citrus and a touch of hops.

T: The taste starts out bready with flavors of grain and a hearty malt character. Then some mildly sweet flavors of caramel and some honey come in. The hops presence is mild and there isn’t as much balance as you look for in the style. The after-taste is slightly bready.

M: Crisp but not very smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is dry and slightly sticky.

O: Not very tasty, goes down ok, not too filling, mild kick, decent representation of style, there are definitely several other choices in the style that are better.

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Photo of Act25
3.68/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Real English Ale - From England. Very malty without being sweet.

A: Lovely dark orange, mahogany stain color. Very smallish, khaki colored head, but fast fade and no lace for my tulip glass.

S: Its nose is a bit musty, with the massive and original malt that along with herbal, fruity English hops. A bit of varnished wood and cedar. Smells of a pub.

T: Tastes good, the firm, dry, toasted malt base reminds me of England as I remember it in the late 70s, of pubs, smoke and toasted whole grain bread. Also overripe apples, cedar, varnish, cinnamon and hints of tobacco.

MF is clean and lasting. Balanced. A bit of weight. Will make a lovely black and tan. Very original way of lasting... will be great with pub food or cheese.

"Spunky. I had a good time with this one." as an ace reviewer wrote - I agree.

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Photo of biegaman
3.5/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

It's no wonder Spitfire is sold in clear bottles - if I had a such a tanned, sexy blood orange body I'd want to show it off too (well, that's kind of a lie, I'd probably go see a doctor). It's an appearance that takes the tone of the marmalade and toffee notes of its aroma. It's an ESB with a lovely colour, gummy head and lace, and a clear, glistening complexion.

I'll just come out and say it: Spitfire will be boring to some. It's not its fault, it's just the style. North American ales are often distinguished by their aggressive hopping - magically enchanting notes of pine resins, tropical fruits, and alpha acids so sharp you can cut your finger on them - but British ales gain their distinction by more subtle means and are far more understated by nature.

The noteworthy features of this one are, as in so many others, not especially noteworthy at all: stiff water minerals, an unembellished maltiness, and the odd yeast ester. The result is a beer that drinks like a seltzer water infused with toffee and dried fruits. There's not a ton of character beyond the customary toffee-ish malts, marmalade sweetness, the odd raisin-like nuance, and...

the three varieties of distinctly spicy and pungent Kent hops! This might not pack the IBUs or flamboyant fruitiness of an American IPA, but its hoppiness is no more easy to miss. The mouthfeel has a vegetal kind of bitterness - like the center of a raw cabbage - that almost simulates chewing on an actual hop (something I don't recommend). It's very herbal.

It's only befitting that a beer released to commemorate the Battle of Britain - brewed by Britain's oldest brewery - be so quintessentially British. There's no mistaking this as an ale from any other part of the world; its hard water profile, biscuity malts, dried fruit esters, spicy hops, and mild, approachable manner are the very things that define the proud English brewing tradition.

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Spitfire (Premium Ale Export) from Shepherd Neame Ltd
82 out of 100 based on 167 ratings.