Spitfire (Premium Ale Export) | Shepherd Neame Ltd

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
170 Reviews
Spitfire (Premium Ale Export)Spitfire (Premium Ale Export)

Brewed by:
Shepherd Neame Ltd
United Kingdom (England) | website

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

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 170 | Ratings: 409
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.

 802 characters

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.

 816 characters

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.

 1,910 characters

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.

 1,379 characters

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.

 377 characters

Photo of steveh
3.94/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I've seen this around forever, probably even tried it in the past, but I was in the mood for something a little more different than my usual, so I grabbed up a sixpack.

"Pale Ale" or "ESB" makes no difference other than the method of pour, so here's to it.

Supposed to be a Best-before date on the neck of the 11.2 ounce brown bottle, but I can't find it.

A -- Clear, bright copper color with a creamy, light tan head that holds up well and leaves good lacing.

S -- Good balance of earthy, herbal hops and lightly sweet Marris Otter malt. Some light toffee from the malts.

T -- Very well-balanced blend of earthy hops and biscuit malt with the spicy-bitter hops taking control in the finish and aftertaste, but the malts keep up the backbone. Mellow, but luscious fruit esters start to mingle with the malt character after more warming. There's also a mellow mineral character balancing with the spicy hop character in the aftertaste.

M -- Smooth and soft mouthfeel, that finishes moderately dry, with a medium body.

O -- The malt & hops play very well together in this beer and give the drinker a good example of an English Ale that doesn't allow hop characters to run rampant. Alos terrific in its sessionable ABV.

 1,223 characters

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.

 407 characters

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.

 1,275 characters

Photo of thecheapies
3.43/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

Dispenses an amber color with great clarity. Bushy carbonation with good retention.

The nose is very mild. Some fruity esters behind cereal grains. Mild bitterness. Tea-like malt/hop combo.

Tea notes with moderate bitterness. Finishes with hints of pomme fruit and carryover yeast. Nutty and toasty. So mild, it's easy. Too easy. Not much complexity, or should I say, flavor. But, it's appealing.

Easy to drink. Smooth with a gritty dry finish. Carbonation is appropriate for the style.

Bland, maybe. Easy, but not worth repeating. My session ales require more flavor.

 572 characters

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.

 289 characters

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

Amber copper color with a thick head with medium retention and leaving laces.
Aroma of caramels, bready malt and English earthy hops.
Predominant flavor of earthy hops, spicy yeast, citrus and toasted malts. Hints of walnuts, caramel, tea bag and pine. Dry, bitter and spicy aftertaste.
Medium body with right carbonation.
Very nice bitterness, even superior to English IPAs. Good personality with an original taste. If you like English hops, don't miss it.

 457 characters

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

A: Bright, copper coloured. Small but stable head.
S: Very nice, green hoppy smell which quickly dissipates. Slightly sulfury (lager-like), with a light caramel undertone.
T: Fairly dry, light crystal /toffee malt character. Fairly bitter aftertaste.
M: dry, relatively high carbonation for an English ale.
O: Nice English ale, very drinkable. Not spectacular.

 364 characters

Photo of djura
3.92/5  rDev +8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Redissh color,thin foam,whitw,medium bubbless.
S - lots of fruits,sweet malt,elder.
T/M - Refreshing,medium bitter aftertaste,red fruits in the mouth. drinkable. Also crisp,a bit sweetish aftertaste.
O - Good,drinkable,easy to drink. Close to IPA,but not 100 % IPA.

 270 characters

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

A: poured from a 500 ml bottle into a glass, red brown amber colored with a large white head that lingers leaving good lacing, clear

S: medium English hop smell, tangy pine and heavy malt

T: mild hop bitterness coupled with huge malt, nutty, earthy

M: on the thinner side with lower carbonation

O: good readily available brew, the tasting notes on the back of the bottle are hilarious

 388 characters

Photo of DenisKolkin
3.44/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

500 ml clear bottle, served cold into a Murphy's pint glass. Purchased for about $3.50 CDN from the LCBO.

Appearance - Clear, bronze color, quite a few bubbles. A steady finger of white head rests on top and leaves behind some sparse lacing.

Smell - A bit of fruit, some graininess and a bouquet of subtle floral aromas.

Taste - Mild bit of flowery gfoodness up front with a touch of pine and steady but kmil bitterness throughout. Kind of a hybrid between an English Pale ale and an ESB. Thoroughly English.

Mouthfeel - Smooth, slightly dry finish, despite being rather wet in the mouth. Medium body with lower than average carbonation.

Overall - Solid English Ale, but not my fave. Worth a try at least.

 711 characters

Photo of papat444
3.77/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Have fond memories of this beer but haven't had it in over 15 years.

Poured from a 500ml. bottle with #freshbeer info: Jan 14 (assuming it's a best before).

Appearance: Can see through the bottle a ruddy brown color, same thing in the glass. Bubbly head.

Smell: Tobacco leaves, strong herbs, bitter leaves.

Taste: Toffee, bitterness is strong, light dried fruits.

Mouthfeel: Better at room temp as i can imagine drinking it on cask.

Overall: Not my favorite but still good and glad to have something to remind me of good memories.

 536 characters

Photo of soju6
3.56/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

A: Pours a dark copper color with a decent head that fades to traces of lacing.

S: Aroma of malt, nuts and grains.

T: Taste of malt, with some nuts and toffee. Has a mild bitterness and a fairly dry finish with a trace of lingering malt.

F: Medium body, smooth and refreshing. Nicly balanced.

O: Pleasant beer, that goes down easy.

 338 characters

Photo of andrenaline
3.77/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A - Pours a clear amber colour, finger of head with some retention and sporadic lacing.

S - Leafy greens, musty caramel, hints of citrus rind and a metallic finish.

T - Lighter on the palette, bitter citrus hop notes, leafy greens, a touch of buttery caramel comes through alongside a sour bitterness that lingers.

M - Medium bodied, a tad prickly and a touch of dryness.

O - A tasty brew but surprisingly mild flavoured. I've overlooked this on the shelf before and although it wasn't bad, I won't feel bad overlooking it again.

 533 characters

Photo of RaphaelSC
3.91/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a red amber with a good one finger head with good retention.

S: Bread and caramel in a mild sweet smell.

T: Citric malts with a bitter hop end, but lighter than another English bitter.

M: Light body with a bread and bitter aftertaste.

O: A lighter version of the English Pale Ale, I rather prefer the Bishop Finger from the same brewery, but Spitfire is a good option as a session beer.

 399 characters

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!

 911 characters

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!

 611 characters

Photo of mick303
3.86/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a good head of tan head, colour is a dark amber brown. Good even carbonation. Leaves a thin film and good lacing.

Smell is immediate out of the bottle. Fresh maltiness, a slight nutiness, apple, with a sweet toffee caramel note.

Taste has caramel malts, with some dry apple. Then a full bitterness. Flavour intensity is quite good, fairly traditional EPA profile. Finish is dry but without much substance.

Mouthfeel has a rolling carbonation, slightly cloying toffee sweet feel, medium body. Quite drinkable, bitterness dominates the end flavour. Quite dry, probably a touch more hops than expected.

Good classy pale ale. Quite on the dry side with healthy bit of hops bitterness. Not remarkable, but keeps it interesting and drinkable.

 748 characters

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

500ml can served in a Pint glass.

A: Pours a clear copper amber color forming a medium light yellow head. Medium retention and lots of lingering and molasses chunks of lacings formed and left in the glass

S: Very malty in the nose. Strong notes of caramel, roasted malts, grassy, citrus and a bit piny hops. Notes of wood. Slightly sweet and biscuity. A bit fruity with some notes of plums and grapes

T: Follows the nose. Sweet caramel malts in upfront. Notes of roasted malts. Moderate grassy bitterness which is a bit citrus and piny too. Crispy and biscuity. Some fruity notes, mainly plums

M: Light body, medium to low carbonation. Malty and boscuity aftertaste. Grassy hops also left in the mouth

O: Absolutely drinkable. Perfect session beer. Delicious British Ale

 775 characters

Photo of doktorhops
3.58/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Do you remember the Battle of Britain? Of course I do, it was some big affair involving planes, stiff upper lips and bombing of London thrown into the mix, they even made a movie, what a silly question Mr. Neame. Kentish ales are a real classic style of ale and a great way to facilitate the average UK pub talk of crap weather, who's the biggest slapper in town and Premier league football (almost said 'soccer' there), and I'm a bit of a fan of a good tap poured EPA, however they never seem to taste as good from the bottle.

Poured from a 500ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: Perfectly clear copper body with a fairly proud creamy head on top - looks the part.

S: Straight on the nose with those delightful earthy Fuggles hops and a hit of caramel malts fills out the aroma. There is also a freshness to the aroma that is very welcoming - this is brewed old school.

T: Balanced flavour here; the hops add a citrus tang and the caramel malts come through on the back palate. Nothing is over-powering and if you were looking for a hop laden brew then you should really be drinking an American pale anyway. Good work on the balance Mr. Neame. There is a slight metal twinge in the after-taste, this is discouraging.

M: Light carbonation with a medium body. Well rounded in this department.

D: All very textbook EPA... hell these guys probably wrote the book on Kentish ales so it's no surprise how "pub-friendly" this beer tastes. Apart from that slight metal after-taste I could not fault it as a typical English ale, it conjures up memories from my own experiences in the UK and for that it wins my hard-earned praise.

Food match: Roast beef, steak pies and Cornish pasties all spring to mind, but really for a style like EPA (with no overpowering flavours) it's quite versatile to most foods.

 1,800 characters

Photo of heygeebee
3.48/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Ok - this has never happened before - wiped the BB Date with my thumb to remove condensation and removed BB date!

Pours completely transparent amber, fluffy white head two finger head. Lacing sinks on swirl.

Caramel on nose.

Taste is malt driven, caramel and some toffee, England all the way, however, moderate to significant hop bitterness kicks in. A metallic twang is unwanted, but makes itself known by end of bottle.

Mouthfeel - medium bodied, light carbonation but an unwanted zing creeps up.

Overall, not a bad example, but not a great one. Need more malt. Will not buy again.

 590 characters

Spitfire (Premium Ale Export) from Shepherd Neame Ltd
82 out of 100 based on 170 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Return of the Belgian Beer Fest

    BeerAdvocate Brings its All-Belgian Fest to Portland, Maine on September 17, 2016. Tickets are on sale now.

    Learn More
  • Get the Mag

    Become a BeerAdvocate magazine print subscriber today.