Spitfire (Premium Ale Export) | Shepherd Neame Ltd

174 Reviews
Spitfire (Premium Ale Export)Spitfire (Premium Ale Export)

Brewed by:
Shepherd Neame Ltd
England, United Kingdom

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: 174 | Ratings: 418
Photo of kojevergas
2.13/5  rDev -41.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Served from a bottle into a Guinness pint glass in low altitude Galway, Ireland.

A: Clear gold colour. A bit overcarbonated. Three finger, creamy head of excellent retention.

Sm: Fresh creamy scent, barley, hops. The toffee scent advertised is missing.

T: Hops, hops, more hops, and barley. Horrible finish. I can't place it - but I know it's awful. Terribly built. I guess the awful finish is balanced against the body well (at least they match!).

Mf: Almost dusty. Certainly musty. Sandyish. The finish (at least in texture) gets a bit softer.

Dr: A damned disappointment, especially coming from Shepherd Neame, a brewery I've enjoyed in the past. What happened?

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Photo of Long813
2.43/5  rDev -33.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

G: Pint Glass

A: Half an inch off white head that dissipates into a fine film leaving only the slightest of lacing. Clear bronze coloured body

S: Grainy, slight malts and hint of caramel.

T: Very grainy, with some malts to finish it off

M: Medium-light body with medium-high carbonation. Leaves with an extra dry finish.

D: I did not feel the flavours were well developed here. It's not that hard to drink, but I wouldn't buy this again.

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Photo of Daniell
2.44/5  rDev -32.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

A: attractive copper colour with good lacing although not much head. 3.5

S: I think this might be skunked but I get some flowery, earthy and spicy notes in there. 2

T: Has a very earthy taste to it. Also substantially bitter, more so than is expected for a British beer, almost like an IPA. 2.5

M: not bad. 3.5

D: I'm really finding it hard to drink this (didn't end up finishing the bottle or even getting close). 2

I reviewed anyway because if the beer is skunked it's because of the bottle. Punk IPA also had similar earthy hops but was sooo much better than this and cheaper.

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Photo of JohnfromDublin
2.49/5  rDev -31.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Tasted as a cask conditioned offering in The Travellers Rest, Bebington, The Wirrall, UK on 1st September 2005.

A bit dissappointed with this English bitter.

Appearence was decent enough, with a nice amber colour and good head. Smell dissappointed with little to write home about, and the taste was much too sharp for me. Of 5 new bitters tasted on that weekend, this was the weakest.
Great pub, by the way!

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Photo of TheHammer
2.55/5  rDev -29.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Appearance: Came in a uniquely shaped bottle with comments on how it was brewed in honor of the battle of Britain. Pours with a solid thumb and half finger of head that looks slightly creamy. The head itself laces like crazy and retains quite well. The beer itself is a crystal clear brown however the carbonation looks to be a little be excessive. Still, impressive thus far.

Smell: Everyone's favorite four legged mammal returns, because this stuff is skunked. I am catching some dry hop scent with a touch of barley and caramel, but it is mostly buried by the skunk sadly.

Taste: The beer starts of with a mild fruity taste with a touch of caramel, it then turns to a bitter bland malt and fruit flavor which is then instantly taken over by dry and bitter hops that leave the beer tasting like hay mixed with dried fruit. It's one of those beers that isn't average to taste, but has cons that balance out the pros.

Mouthfeel: It leaves the mouth fairly dry and while the aftertaste is not that strong, it does overstay it's welcome. Also this beer has way too much carbonation going on. I also find that the beer transitions between flavors poorly.

Drinkability: This stuff isn't very refreshing because it is so dry. Not only that, but the excessive carbonation makes this beer very gassy. It doesn't go down that smoothly and doesn't sit well. I wouldn't be able to drink more then one, and frankly at the half way point I don't want to keep drinking this stuff.

Final Thoughts: I though after seeing this beer pour, this was going to be a winner. However, as the skunk took over and the carbonation leaved me belching every couple of minutes I was disappointed. I dunno, I wouldn't recommend this beer to anyone, unless they really enjoyed a dry taste.

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Photo of NittanyBeerFan
2.8/5  rDev -22.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Poured from a .5L bottle into an appropriately sized full pint glass.

The body is a mostly clear reddish brown amber. The head rises up to about 1 finger before sitting there for a while. Sticky and resilient, it forms rings of lace that are connected by delicate spiderwebs, one ring for each sip. The glass is a beautiful thing to behold.

The aroma brings with it notes of caramel and toffee in the foreground. Accompanying these malty characteristics are fruity esters and some earthy notes from the yeast and some grassy hop aromas with a touch of bitterness. The taste, unfortunately, falls considerably short of the bar set by the nose. Generally harsh on my palate, I find that the unpolished malt profile overpowers the desirable fruity esters and even the grassy hops that should combine to be focal points of this beer.

While the body and carbonation of this Spitfire Ale are pretty much on point, the harsh feeling and flavors that I find make the drinking experience generally unpleasant. Unfortunate, because I was really excited after the aroma and appearance were so damn good.

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Photo of mfnmbvp
2.83/5  rDev -22%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

11.2 fl oz. bottle, with JUN 14 printed on the bottleneck, so whatever that means. Acquired this oddity as part of a mixed six pack at the local beer store. My bottle lists this beer as Spitfire Premium Kentish Ale. My first encounter with a beer from this brewery, Shepherd Neame Ltd.

Poured into a clear balloon snifter.

A - Pours just over a finger of fluffy soapy doughy tan head on top of a burnt coppery orange colored body with excellent clarity. Nice fat cavernous lacing. Fairly average to look at, but appealing.

S - Smell is fairly simplistic also, but pleasant enough. Clean grainy English malt, caramel / bread malt, corn, musty yeast, herbal grassy notes, and some indistinct peppery /vegetal qualities.

T - This is some pretty blahhh stuff. Extremely dry papery grains permeate the taste. Wet paper, grains, bready malt, and some mineral well water.

M - Feel is extremely dry, bready, and coarse. Medium bodied with appropriate carbonation.

Overall, I found this to be a pretty poor beer, with bad intensity and duration of flavor, and somewhat imbalanced. Not what I would call undrinkable, but it definitely didn't live up to my expectations, which were pretty poor to begin with. Not something I would have again.

Spitfire Premium Kentish Ale ---3/5.

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Photo of AlexLMS
2.83/5  rDev -22%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: bright medium to dark copper colour. Moderate, foamy and light tan head. Impaired retention and little lacing.
Aroma: malt and herbal hops.
Taste: malts, spicy bitter hops.
Mouthfeel: very dry feel, average carbonation, medium alcoholic presence and a medium body.
Finish: very bitter turning to tart lingering aftertaste.

Overall: The malts and hops are well-balanced. Although the alcohol is average (4.5%), I felt that I was drinking a stronger beer. I could have appreciated Spitfire more if not for the very tart aftertaste.

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Photo of demcorhip
2.85/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Looks great, mildly carbonated amber hued ale that produced a 2 finger head on the pour, with decent retention. Leaves some sticky, intricate clumps of lace.

Aroma is not so hot, smells skunked, damn clear bottle. A whiff of sulfur also comes through.

Tastes slightly better than it smells. Unfortunately has the wonderful slightly skunked hops one usually finds in macro lagers. To be positive however, the malts are nice in this one, substantial and doughy and carry the barley flavour through quite cleanly. Decent level of skunked Goldings bitterness, unfortunately buries any nuances which could otherwise be found in this brew.

Nice malts, solid malt backbone, and skunked hops. Not much more to say.

Would be nice to contrast this with a very fresh sample bottled in amber glass. Im still going to drink and more or less enjoy this, but its deficiencies are quite obvious and take alot away from the enjoyment of this brew.

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Photo of Jeffo
2.86/5  rDev -21.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Picked this up at the LCBO

From a bottle into a pint glass

APPEARANCE: Big fluffy 3+ finger thinner looking off-white head mounds out of the glass. Russet in color, perfectly clear with lower end carbonation. Only a ring of foam remains until the end but manages to leave some minor lacing down the sides of the glass. Decent looking for the style.

SMELL: A grainy nose. There's some toasted malt and caramel notes. Not much here at all. Certainly weaker and less impressive than what I'd expect.

TASTE: The taste is certainly mild as well. Toasted malt, some caramel malt and notes of wood in there as well. Some floral hops round it off. Mild aftertaste has a touch of bitterness there too. Nice, but just not quite bold enough to really make a statement.

PALATE: Medium-thin body and slightly airy. A little light on the palate and not quite creamy enough. Goes down fine and finishes with an appropriate amount of dryness on the palate. A little lacking here in my view.

OVERALL: Not a bad brew just not all that impressive. There are more interesting choices out there, though this one is certainly worth a whirl if you're a fan of the style. In my view, this one needs a bit of a kick in the arse to get it moving.

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Photo of fullsweep
2.86/5  rDev -21.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

300 mL bottle poured into a glass.

Nice 2-finger head that dissipates over the course of 2-3 minutes. Light lacing.

Smell has a faint sweetness, and a mild bitter smell. Both scents are a foretaste of what's to come.

Taste is light, refreshing and a mild citrus-sweetness, with some bitterness as well.

Light carbonation makes for a refreshing drink, but this isn't necessarily what I want from an ale, personally. A lighter mouthfeel might be nice for a post-exercise lager, but leaves a little wanting for an ale.

Overall a decent drink, just not my favorite, especially for an English ale. Nice for something new though.

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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 Sammy
2.95/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Aggressive carbonation and lots of hops and dry bitterness. Brown but big hop bubbles are nice. My son liked it, it was Ok for lunch, but only a so-so. Some citrus, a little carmel and malt, nuttiness and grainiess. Metallic on mid sip. Medium mouthfeel.

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Photo of eric5bellies
2.96/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Drank from my Conic Pint Glass

A - Nice copper colour with an off white head tha dies real quick.

S - Nice yeasty earth notes that have some caramel.

T - Quite a nice fruity taste but not that complex.

M - Medium body and carbonation.

D - Not the best from this brewery and gunned down by the Bishops Finger.

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Photo of hoegaardenhero
2.96/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

the beer pours a nice amber-red with a decent frothy head that fades quickly. the smell is pretty heavy on the sweet malts/caramel side with just a hint of hoppy bitterness at the finish. the taste is nothing special but pretty smooth. The sweeter maltier side is a lot more subdued than the smell indicated. so light hops and light malts are what you get. the mouthfeel is quite creamy and overall this is certainly a drinkable beer and pretty refreshing but it is ultimately nothing special and a little disappointing compared to other english ales that can be easily purchased.

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Photo of PlutonowyManiek
2.96/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Color: chestnut, dark amber, clear. Foam light beige, tall, compact and durable.
Aroma: caramel, toffee, a little lemon.
Taste: caramel, toffee, light, crisp lemon. Beer is heavily watery.
Gentian quite clear, dry, slightly tart.

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Photo of Lukie
3.05/5  rDev -16%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poors out a clear golden colour, with minimal head and minimal lacing. There is no ringing down the glass, and once again freshness comes into question with an English ale in Australia.

Slight malty sweetness, and minimal hop characters. Nothing stands out.

Minimal malt characters, mainly caramel and honey. Mild hop bitterness in the back of the palate.

Quite a light brew. Has some slight dryness and bitterness to it. A decent drinker. Alright if you can pick it up around 6 bucks a bottle, but not worth too much more.

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Photo of
3.05/5  rDev -16%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Deep orange in colour with a persistent, rocky head. The aroma is vaguely hoppy and complex with fruit and a tinge of mustiness and white pepper. There is a waft of orange peel somewhere back there, just poking its nose through. Flavour is heavy on diacetyl butterscotch with a pleasant mineral bitterness on the finish.

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Photo of mikeal1917
3.08/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I got this brew at a Pub just outside downtown Oxford, the Lamb and Flagg.

Appearance: Deep red amber color, with hints of orange on the top and bottom of the glass. Small wispy head that dissipates quickly.

Smell: strong bitter smell, definitely a pale ale. Hints of wood, though not quite sure what to make of it.

Taste: typical pale ale, ABV is perfect, but aftertaste is quite strong, soured my taste for it a bit.

Mouthfeel: just the right consistency, though if it was colder I might have liked it better.

Drinkability: had this by itself, so I didn't enjoy it as much as some of the other beers, but with dinner, it might improve the drinkability.

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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 kwjd
3.11/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I had this on cask in England a year ago and I seem to remember liking this. Picked up a bottle today to try it again. Pours a copper-orange colour with nice white head. Nice head retention with lacing over some of the glass. Smells of bread and caramel malt, some earthy hops, and a weird metallic smell. Flavour is pretty sweet, with the metal being in the aftertaste. Good carbonation level. This would be a lot nicer if it wasn't for the off flavour, but it still is fine.

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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 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 charlatan
3.16/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

This fairly dark copper coloured beer has an appreciable head. I'm not getting much of a nose at all: just a little sweet maltiness is apparent. A far cry (for me) from the generous aromas advertised on the bottle.

This isn't undercarbonated, but the bubbles feel miniscule on my tongue, giving an initial watery feel. This is a nicely savoury beer with the sweetness from the malt being curbed by the bitterness of the hops, leaving a rather earthy, maybe even slightly nutty flavour. Well coordinated, but certainly nothing to write home about. Certainly it would be a doddle to knock back a bunch of these: it isn't particularly substantial or in any way offensive.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.2/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle: Poured a nut brown colored ale with a nice off-white foamy head with average retention. Aroma is comprised of lightly roasted malt and bitter hops. Taste is better then your average bitter with some lightly sweet malt mix with biter hops leaving a clean dry taste at the end. Overall, an above the pack English bitter.

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Spitfire (Premium Ale Export) from Shepherd Neame Ltd
3.63 out of 5 based on 418 ratings.
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