Spitfire (Premium Ale Export) | Shepherd Neame Ltd

173 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: 173 | Ratings: 417
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 biboergosum
4.05/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

500ml, clear bottle, nice Spitfire bulls-eye cap. An ode to the Battle of Britain, with that so English of constructs, the pun: hence, the 'Bottle of Britain'...

This beer pours a clear medium golden amber hue, with one finger of foamy, somewhat creamy ecru head, which leaves a random drooping tree canopy of lace around the glass in its retreat to the Tube. It smells of bready biscuit malt, and bitter grassy, floral, dusty hops. The taste is more of that same bitterness up front, the slight mustiness tinging the grassy and earth character. Underneath, and not lagging by much, is a sturdy cereal/biscuit graininess, one which tugs nicely at the palate. The carbonation is present, but pleasant enough, the body medium-light in weight, and adequately smooth. It finishes fairly dry, the crisp grain and hops riding out in splendid unison.

Well, the see-through bottle had me feeling a wee bit trepidatious, but that was soon dispelled - this is a well-balanced, yet still decently flavourful EPA - not a lot of that makes it to my 'hood.

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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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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 oberon
3.77/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Found this one at Cork'n Ale back home in Saginaw,Mi,poured a nice copper color with medium head,has a hoppy aroma.Pretty dry ,appetizing taste with some nice bitterness.Very nice medium body,very drinkable,should have gotten more than one,I will be looking for more ales from this brewery for sure.

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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 BuckeyeNation
3.83/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Limpid dark orange with orange juicy highlights. The smallish, khaki colored cap is dense, has a wonderfully bubbly surface and leaves gobs of sticky lace. A nice look.

I'm still waiting for the day when I pop the cap on a clear glass bottle of beer and don't smell skunk. It usually fades to a considerable degree and sometimes even fades completely by the time I'm ready to assess the nose, but it'd still be nice to not have to experience it at all. Obvious solution: stop using clear glass! Tradition be damned, it's idiotic.

The nose smells a trifle musty, and even a little musky, but no skunk remains. The focal points are toffeeish malt and hugely herbal, overripe fruity English hops. There's plenty of power to be had, but the somewhat stale mustiness keeps me from being overly impressed.

Spitfire (Export) is a flavorful little sucker, I'll give it that. The firm, dry, heavily toasted malt base reminds me of toasted whole grain bread. Caramel and toffee comparisons apply to some extent, but the sweetness that goes along with those flavors (at least in my mind) is virtually absent. Accessory flavors include overripe apples, cinnamon and faint hints of tobacco.

The flavor declines abruptly on the swallow, but doesn't completely vanish. What remains is a lingering dry bitterness, coupled with a tangy tartness that keeps the good impressions flowing. The mouthfeel struggles to be medium for the style and actually fits the clean nature of the flavor profile fairly well.

"Originally produced in 1990 to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain". Spitfire is a spunky little English pale ale with loads of personality and an abundance of classic EPA flavor. I had a good time with this one.

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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 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 stevoj
3.49/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Enjoyed this on the ferry from Calais to Dover. Nice and tart , like a bitter should be. Nut brown color with thin head, bitterness nips the tongue right from the get-go. Liked this a lot....

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Photo of tempest
3.85/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On cask at the Speaker in London. I had a half pint with the lunch crowd and a bad of "pork shavings." It appeared clear orange, filled to the brim. The ale has a big nutty, walnuts and cashews along with sugar cookies and digestive biscuits. A bitter British hops aftertaste with dry toast finish close out this tasty beer.

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Photo of tone77
3.53/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a brown 11.2 oz. bottle. Has a tannish/brown color with a 1/2 inch head. Smell is of light hops, a bit of malts, kind of mild. Taste is well balanced malts and hops, some bitterness, a bit of breadyness to it. Feels medium bodied in the mouth and overall is a pretty good beer.

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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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Photo of BlackHaddock
3.72/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Can't believe I've never reviewed this before: this hand pulled pint was taken at a local pub on the 4th sep 2011.

Reddy brown body with an off-white topping which hung around throughout the pint.

The smell and taste can be easily combind, you'll find semi-sweet biscuits that contain toffee, caramel and nuts within the mix, towards the end of the mouthfeel a dry hoppiness pops up to remind you this is a proper beer.

Sadly the body is a bit watery thin, a shame because everything else about the beer is fine, well carbonated and easy to drink.

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Photo of Evil_Pidde
3.73/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Got this one in a pint glass. Copper with a thick white head that after dissipation leaves some lace.

S: Dry bitter hops dominates over sweet caramell malt.

T: Bready malt with some sweetness together with a nice mix of floral and bitterhops. Some faint citric notes.

M: The aftertaste is bitter, but not to bitter. There is dryness but also sweetness. The body is medium to full and the carbonation is medium.

D: This is a nice beer at the pub when you're just talking to the boys. One of these is nice, but then I like to have something else.

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Photo of spinrsx
3.6/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

500ml Bottle

Appearance - Clear copper colour with an average size fizzy beige coloured head. There is a high amount of carbonation showing and there is some fairly good lacing. The head lasted for around 5 minutes before it was gone.

Smell - Malts, toffee/caramel, hops

Taste & Mouth - The beer has a higher than usual amount of carbonation and most of the taste consists of malts, caramel/toffee, and a pear juice sweetness. There was also a bit of a dry hop taste and some light chocolate notes. It ends with a malty sweet aftertaste with a hint of fruitiness.

Overall - A very drinkable beer that has enough flavour to keep it interesting and yet not too cloying. I could definitely drink several of these throughout the course of an evening. It might be a touch too expensive for what you get however.

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Photo of wl0307
3.38/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Clear, 500ml bottle, BB: (see neck) nothing there~~
A: in a straight pint glass it pours a reddish chestnut hue, coming with a thick, very frothy, off-white beer head full of medium and small air cells, sustaining very well and supported by a constant and moderate carbonation.
S: very light caramel-hinted maltiness, buttressed by a flow of floral and lightly earthy hops with an edge of caramelised sliced-orange. Overall, the smell is softly orange-fruity as well as mildly flowery, balanced with good body of moderate caramel maltiness--quite pleasant~~
T: bittersweet maltiness prevailed upfront, decorated with a hint of caramel (without the sweet edge); flat-textured leafy hops and moderate bitterness manifest at the back, with moderate lingerness. Quite mild the overall flavour is, and the fruitiness is somehow too restrained compared to the nose.
M&D: overly fizzy on the mouthfeel and shows no sign of softening after quite many sips, making the drink slightly too stimulating for the relatively mild flavour and a surprisingly light body. The nose of this bottled version is perhaps clearer and more aromatic than the cask verion, but the flavour and structure is way below supposed performance.I'll rather stick to the casked Spitfire in the future.

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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 tigg924
3.5/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: amber in color, 1/4 inch head, clear, moderate carbonation

Smell: pale malt and meadow smell

Taste: sweet caramel, fresh meadow, toasted malt

Mouthfeel: medium-light bodied, medium carbonation, sweet start with a slightly dry bitter end

Overall: A solid, dry, and easy to drink English Pale Ale. I would get this again, but would not go out of my way for it.

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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 barnzy78
3.91/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

"Best Before End" JUN 14
A - copper ale with a creamy ivory head that slowly fades
S - earthy hop aroma with bread crust and caramel, some fruit and floral hop as well
T - bready, caramel, herbal, earthy, floral hops, sultana raisin, nice medley of flavors
M - medium body, pleasant carbonation, drying finish with some bitterness to boot
O - I really enjoyed this one. I'll look forward to buying it again.

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Photo of StJamesGate
3.53/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bright orange amber with a puffy offwhite head that laces. Spicy hops nose. Some bready malts, but more clove, resin, and bitter orange hops dominate. Tart tight finish. Medium body, fairly lively for an English ale.

Good showcase of British hopping, but not balanced enough and too fizzy to be an easy drinker.

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Photo of champ103
3.2/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a slightly hazy copper/orange color. A two finger white head forms with good retention. As the foam recedes, patchy lace is left behind.
S: At first a clean floral hoppy aroma. A nice balance of pale malts with some fruity aromas.
T: Kind of odd. I get an odd mesh of peat/smoke, pale malts, and a lingering bitterness. It is not bad, just an odd combination.
M/D: A medium body that is a little on the water and thin side. Not hard to drink if I wanted to quaff a few. Though one pint is good for me.

This did not do it for me. Nothing bad, by any means. Just a little odd. Worth one try if you see it on cask. Though I think there are better options on cask.

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Photo of Darkmagus82
3.64/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Served on tap in a pint glass

Appearance – The beer is served a copper color with a one finger of tan colored head. The head has a good level of retention, slowly fading to leave a moderate level of foamy lace on the sides of the glass.

Smell – The aroma of the beer is quite heavy of a lightly toasted smell as well as a big aroma of toffee and a grainy smell. Along with these aromas are some lighter fruit smells as well as a bit of a more earthy and herbal hop aroma.

Taste – The taste begins with a lighter toasted malt and bready flavor mixed with a light caramel and toffee flavor that procures an overall crisp taste. Along with these flavors are some lighter hop tastes of a more earthy nature. The sweeter flavors of caramel and toffee begin fading producing a very crisp taste overall. With a bit more of a herbal and earthy hop coming to the tongue at the very end, one is left with a pleasant and crisp, lightly toasted malt and moderately bitter flavor to linger on the tongue.

Mouthfeel – The body of the beer is quite light with a carbonation level that is on the higher side. Both are fantastic for the moderate flavors of the brew and for the crisper feel making for one very refreshing beer.

Overall – A refreshing and easy drinking, crisp brew. While not a flavor powerhouse it is quite easy drinking and enjoyable. A great session style brew.

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Photo of ccrida
3.41/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On cask at the White Hart in White Chappel, Spitfire is auburn with an off-white head leaving heavy lace.
Smell is lightly sweet, orange citrus. A slight off note reminiscent of city storm drain steam, which I could obviously do without. I thought it might have been a whiff passing through the pub at first, but I got it consistently over the length of the pint.
Taste is bright minty, herbal hops, a bit bitter on the finish with a nice cracker malt flavor.
Mouthfeel is light.
Drinkability is high, a nice malt flavor countered by the hops, in a balanced, restrained package. Just try not to sniff too much!

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Spitfire (Premium Ale Export) from Shepherd Neame Ltd
3.63 out of 5 based on 417 ratings.
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