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Spitfire (Premium Ale Export) | Shepherd Neame Ltd

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170 Reviews
Spitfire (Premium Ale Export)Spitfire (Premium Ale Export)

Brewed by:
Shepherd Neame Ltd
United Kingdom (England)

Style: English Pale Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 02-21-1998

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Reviews: 170 | Ratings: 411
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 funkengruven
4.58/5  rDev +26.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Got the last two bottles at the store, glad I did.

This poured a beautiful copper with a slight tan head leaving some lacing. Smell is hoppy, with some slight caramel in there. The hops are prominent in the flavor, leaving a very slight aftertaste and a smoothness that I would consider to be unrivaled for this style of beer. This is one of those brews that is perfect to sit down and relax with.

The LCBO better not discontinue this one.

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Photo of ChrisCage
4.5/5  rDev +24%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- Pours a rich rusty color with ample ample amounts of big burly carbonation rising to the top, and it's very persistent. The head is textured like sponge toffee at first, but then gets really dense and cloud like, and is slightly off white in coloration....it retains very well! The lacing is wonderful, as an English Bitter should be!

S- There is wonderful aromas of citrus fruit flesh, and rich malt sweetness, that contains toffee/caramel. On the finish, I notice fresh, yet not overpowering hop flowers....very well rounded, if not a little mild, but very typically English!

T- The flavors follow the aromas very closely, and the delivery is simply awesome! There is some malt toffee/caramel sweetness right up front, with a spicy citrus fruit and nutty softness in the middle. The finish is reasonably bitter, with more fresh Kent hops puckering the back of my tongue. I only put in that they're Kent hops b/c I know that's what they used ;) The aftertaste gets a little sticky sweet with a bit of caramilk chocolate bar coming to mind

M- Once the carbonation settles down, this becomes a very frothy, creamy drink! It's clean on the palate, finishing in a quenching manner, leaving me craving the next swig of fine liquid! The body I find is solidly medium...not too thick, but definitely not watery!

O- This one ranks among the best EPA's that I've tried to date! I love this style and the smooth, creamy, full flavored character of this one puts it right up there with the best in my opinion! Perfectly balanced, from sweet beginning to bitter end, this one has it all! Highly recommended!!

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Photo of woemad
4.47/5  rDev +23.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

My memory of Spitfire is two years old, so forgive me if it has managed to improve in my mind. Had this on tap in a pub in Peckham, in Southeast London. This was the only place I saw this, as I usually encountered Speckled Hen in most of the pubs I was able to frequent. I ordered it because I thought Spitfire was a superb name for an English beer, and therefore had to try it! Was a reddish amber color, if memory serves, with a nice, compact white head perched on top. Smelt of sweet malt and floral hops. Taste started with a malty sweetness that was subtle, not dominating, with the bulk of the taste created by the hops, which gave a satisfying, citrusy zip to the taste buds. I really like English bitters, and this one went very well with my bacon & Stilton hamburger and chips.

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Photo of Mark
4.46/5  rDev +22.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

The Spitfire I had was in a British pub cask conditioned. Appearance wise it might be the most beautiful ale. A dark clear ruby color. Fruity tast with solid malt backbone. Subtle hopping. As with all cask conditioned brews it has a mellow smoothness and high drinkability. There is nothing like cask or real ale!

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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 CAMRAhardliner
4.41/5  rDev +21.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I cant believe I havent reviewed this yet. Its definitely one of the finer English Pale Ales.

It pours from its stout narrow necked bottle a bright copper with a plethora of miniscule carbonation bubbles. An immense rocky cream head lasts forever and coats the glass behind it. Aromas of English hops (Goldings Im guessing, its not mentioned on the label) are dominant in the nose. Some biscuity malt is there as well. The taste is a snappy blend of earthy, marmalade hops and dry nutty malt flavors. Hops are much more vibrant than the ordinanry English fare that makes it to Canada. The finish rather bitter and quenching. The mouthfeel is medium and delicately carbonated, almost akin to cask ale.

This is the archetypal English session beer IMO. Its got great balance and good complexity. Unfortunately Spitfire doesnt have the detailed Brewer's notes on the bottle that other brands from this brewery have. The clear glass could be problematic but this sample didnt suffer at all.

Try this beer.

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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 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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4.32/5  rDev +19%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500ml bottle. Pint glass. Enjoyed on may´11. Deep copper color. Crystal clear appearance. White, small bubbled, froth. Close & dense head with fairly good retention. Nice lacing. Moderate citric & sweet malt aromas. Floral touch. Sweet malty upfront followed by smooth citric. Clean bitterness & gentle palate. Medium body, soft carbonation. Bitter finish. Big beer!!

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Photo of TheLongBeachBum
4.3/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Believed to be the oldest continuous brewery in Britain; Shepherd Neame is probably more famous for its Bishops Finger Ale, or “Nun's Delight” as it is known locally.

Spitfire was introduced in 1990 as a ‘special’ commemorative beer for the 50th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain, with a portion of the funds going to the RAF’s benevolent appeal. It became so popular it remained a permanent fixture and is now their top selling Cask beer.

Weighs in at 4.5% ABV in the Cask format, and it was pulled with a tight head, as the Beer Engine in the local J.D.Wetherspoons had a sparkler attached to the swan neck, which is a common attachment to Hand-pumps in the North of England. It added to the smooth drinkability of this fine beer for me.

A golden colored ale that has a very enticing malt aspect. A slight sweetish Devon toffee hint arrives in the middle, but a fruity Kentish hops ending is definitely pertinent in the finish. Extremely well-balanced and incredibly thirst quenching.

As the advert goes, “downed all over England, just like the Luftwaffe” well what would those Fokkers know?

This is one seriously drinkable beer, a real quaffable lunchtime session beer. I had 4 of these in a row without flinching an eyelid.

"we shall drink on to the end,
we shall drink in France,
we shall drink on the seas and oceans,
we shall drink with growing confidence and growing strength in the bar,
we shall defend our Beer, whatever the cost may be,
we shall drink on the beaches, we shall drink on the landing grounds,
we shall drink in the fields and in the streets,
we shall drink in the hills;
we shall never surrender (good beer)!"

A Bloody Jolly Good Show from those Kentish Chaps!

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Photo of putnam
4.3/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Not as good as Bishops Digit, but still...
To quote The Pros And Cons of Hitchhiking:
"I recognise..."
...that instantanaeous burst of hop funk upon cranking off the lid. Clear bottle. Hmm. Not that I dislike hop funk. In fact, I like it.
Underneath my beak it gives resinous, starchy aromas that are industrial...greasy.
Slick, sweetened herbs, dried, Joni Mitchell (v.) to a long, complex finish.
Where is Joni Mitchell?
This beer is Roberta Flack. Sweet and angry.
Or Joan Baez Vol. 2 side 2.
Feminine and throaty.
Provisional, protein-rich grain flavors remind me of Rye Crisp crackers. I think that's a Scandinavian genre. Right? Rye Crackers?

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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 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 BeerResearcher
4.25/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served in a nonic 20 oz tumbler at Nag's Head Belgravia/Westminster.
It pours a deep copper amber color with a rather good-sized frothy off-white head.
A strong tea-like hop aroma rises at first pour. Dry malt and a light wet hay background smell blend in. A light resinous hop and faint fruity smell arrives late.
This is a classic Pale Ale in every way. Edgy tea-like and citrusy hops are slightly forward of the caramel malt backbone. Tastes of bone dry crackers, with a dose of tart pear peek through.
Just beautiful!

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Photo of TripelJ
4.23/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A fine example of a bottle conditioned english ale. Spitfire pours a golden caramel with minimal head. Nose is sweet, fruity, hoppy, and I smell some hints of licorice. The taste reflects the nose but is far more smooth and subtle. The fruity sweetness is citrusy, but not overwhelmingly so. Easily one of the better examples of this style and a very drinkable beer overall.

Serving: 12 oz bottle.

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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 fingerlaker
4.22/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Classic English ale brewed with a good amount of hops with a good, smooth malty body, just like an English ale should have, and that's just what you expect. What I didn't expect was the fantastic smell, something that took me proper by suprise, as it smelled just like I took a handfull of dry hops an just stuck my face right into it.

That incredible smell didn't translate into an overly hoppy brew taste, but lordy, it was still a great experience and something I will be buying again.

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Photo of bark
4.18/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The colour is medium copper; the three finger pale beige head is firm with a very nice crater. Some lacing. Liquid is clear.

The smell is malty with some light metallic bitter flavours. I found notes of apricots and some gravy.

The taste is malty with some sweet notes of wheat bread and rye crisp bread. Some butter/cream diacetyl, as some herbs (not that usual in English ales) and a very mild hint of yeast. The bitterness is low, almost as in a Mild, but there are some flowery and spicy hoppy flavours and a touch of burned toast that I haven’t found elsewhere. Medium body. The aftertaste is dryer with some more spicy bitterness and a balancing malty sweetness.

The carbonation is quite strong; very small bubbles. The liquid is a little watery.

A surprisingly stubborn beer, considering that it is one of the most common English ales available in Swedish pubs. One of my favourites.

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Photo of evlu1441
4.15/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

It pours a medium-dark reddish amber colour with a solid finger of fluffy head.

The aroma has a nice hoppy profile with some slight toffee notes coming through in the background. There is some nice biscuity malt aroma rounding things out.

The flavour is sweet, with oily hops dancing across my tongue to start. More sweetness comes through as the biscuity malt flavours develop. It finished with a bit of oily hoppy flavour and slight bitterness.

Overall, this is a nice sessionable ale!

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Photo of sommersb
4.13/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Tasted On: 01-08-2013
Freshness: Best by 07-2013
Packaging: 500ml clear bottle, pry-cap
Glassware: Tulip pint
Purchased: Received as a gift

Hmm, first review with new .25 increments...this is a brew my brother got in the UK for me

Attractive pour, with a clear bright amber beer capped by the tall, rocky off-white head. Both head retention and lacing are excellent.

Smells are crisp and clean; light malty sweetness of toffee and some breadiness, plus hay and spices from the hops and yeast.

Taste starts with sharp grassy hop notes. It's malty as well, but not overly sweet -- a nice balance here with the moderate bitterness. Spice flavors on the back end of the taste.

Mouthfeel has a light to medium body, with a high level of carbonation. Finish is bready and a moderately bitter aftertaste.

Overall I really enjoyed this pale ale -- a very well-balanced session beer.

Thanks to Billy for this one!

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Photo of DoctorStrangiato
4.12/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured a 500-ml bottle into a pub ale draught glass.

Appearance - amber-coloured ale with cream-coloured head. 1-inch head lowered and laced gorgeously between the pour and first taste 5 min later.

Smell - there's a woody oak aroma together with spiced malt.

Taste - honey-flavours with woody malt. Long, bitter finish. Amazing.

Mouthfeel - refreshing but a little sour-ish on the tongue. Makes up for it in the taste, however.

Drinkability - this is very flavourful. I wouldn't pound too many back in a row - it would trivialize it.

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Photo of rjimlad
4.1/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I agree that Bishop's Finger is a little better but Spitfire is a beautiful beer to look at with its coppery clear appearance and there was an explosion of hop as you flip the top off the bottle.
Malts were well balanced with a faint citrus ester and nice Kentish hops. It's a bit watery in the mouth but there's enough flavour to carry it to the end. If it weren't so bloody expensive in Oz I'd drink this all the time.

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Photo of JohnnyP3
4.1/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a clear 500ml bottle into an imperial pint glass. Lable says see bottle neck for best before date, but I don't see one anywhere. Moving on, this pours a nice dark amber/auburn color with a head about one finger wide. This pale ale is very clear and the head gradually leaves a thin white cap covering the beer.

Very inviting aroma from this one. I can detect a hard-water-enhanced bitterness from the hops, toffee and some candied fruitiness.

And the taste is...pretty damn good. A delightful bitterness from the hops and a spiciness combine wonderfully. Also, as the smell suggests, some hints of candied fruits (pear/apple) and a slight caramel-like note in there from the malt. Definitely one of the better English Pale Ales I have had. This one puts all the elements together successfully.

Mouthfeel is an English hard water, perfectly carbonated, bulls eye.

This beer is a great example of how you can brew a delicious, flavorful nuanced beer with a lower abv percentage. A great pick for an evening at the pub.

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Spitfire (Premium Ale Export) from Shepherd Neame Ltd
3.63 out of 5 based on 411 ratings.
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