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Spitfire (Premium Ale Export) | Shepherd Neame Ltd

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

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Reviews: 170 | Ratings: 407
Photo of BGDrock
4/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: clear, red copper colur; minimal head fades fast

Aroma: sweet toffee malt; hint of spice, peach; mild hops in the background

Taste & Mouthfeel: burnt caramel; full flavour for a light bodied beer; getting some peach/nectarine flavour; very clean; just enough bitterness to balance out the sweetness and leave a lasting finish

Overall: a surprisingly interesting beer that would be great for a session

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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 killianf
3.49/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

500ml bottle into tulip pint glass

A: Pours a ruby-tinted amber colour, with a 1-finger off-white head that leaves decent lacing. Crystal clear and mild carbonation.

S: Malty, some toffee and fruity notes, maybe caramel. Hops too, with a grassy or floral aroma. I got a slight metallic note too.

T: Fruits and toffee on the tongue immediately, with a hoppy bitterness to balance. A definite metallic taste on the finsh, aftertaste and burp.

M: Light bodied and thin, not too carbonated, smooth and easy to drink. A fine session ale.

Overall: Nothing really wrong with this beer, I'm glad I picked it up, but I don't think I'll be trying it again too soon. Worth a try for a fan of English Ale, but it probably won't be the best you've had.

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Photo of NForr
3.29/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Nice looking red ale, clear, small head.

Musty hops aroma. caramel, some alcohol, some sweet scents.
Bitterness hits first, then that musty earthy taste I smelled. No sweetness.

Goes nicely with my curry - although I completely ruined it, damn pressure cooker...

Not the best English ale I've had, but not bad

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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 Radome
3.83/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

1 pint bottle
A – The color is deep copper or light amber. It is very clear. The head is thick and rocky, just off-white in color and resembles the krausen of a fermenting beer. Lots of lacing on the glass.

S – The aroma is a nice balance of earthy/fruity hops, warm biscuit-like malt and moderately sharp yeast notes. The balance is toward the hops. This is a very traditional English beer, from the aroma.

T – The taste is dominated by the English hops, which again seem both earthy and flowery. There is an accompanying hop bitterness that is pretty sizable, for an English ale. The malt takes a back seat and no yeast flavors make it past the hops. There is a metallic twang that I get right at the end of the swallow.

M – Light to medium body. Higher carbonation than many English ales, but not overly carbonated. Dry finish. No alcohol burn.

O – A clean, well-made and traditional English ale. Despite the relatively high hop bitterness, it goes down smoothly and has enough other elements to avoid seeming one-dimensional.

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Photo of thehyperduck
3.52/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

500 mL bottle; one of the last major EPAs available at the LCBO that I still have not tried.

Pours a bright orange-amber colour, generating a silky cream-coloured head a little more than a finger thick. Decent retention; it lasts for a few minutes before settling to a creamy cap and collar, leaving behind smears of lacing on the glass. Not a bad looking brew at all. The smell is skunky at first (clear bottles - sigh), but a little time to breathe allows the actual aromas to come through - lots of bready, biscuity malts alongside toffee, some fruity esters and a solid leafy, herbal hop bitterness.

More lightly toasted bread and biscuits in the flavour, as well as hints of sweet toffee and pears. Unmistakably English in character, the hops are very leafy and a bit earthy, herbal and a little tea-leaf-like; providing a nice dryness that leads into the finish and lingers a bit for a musty aftertaste. Light-bodied, with heavy, biting carbonation. It works alright here with the spicy hops but I'd prefer the carb level to be a bit milder. Easy to drink; I can easily see myself having a few pints of this for a session.

I am kind of on the fence about this stuff - it's certainly not a *bad* pale ale, but I'm not terribly enthusiastic about it either. Kind of a 'mixed bag'... I like the hop profile a lot, but the mouthfeel is too fizzy and thin. Looks great, but stinks like skunk when you open it. Final verdict? Spitfire is a decent session ale worthy of a try, but not much more than that, and there are many others in this style I'd recommend before it.

[Updated Dec. 19 2013]

I picked up another bottle for a four-way EPA showdown, a comparison that also included servings of Fuller's London Pride, Pedigree and St. Peter's English Ale. This isn't a bad pale ale at all, with a good dose of leafy, earthy hops leading into a pleasing, dry finish. I still think it's kind of thin, watery, and too fizzy, and with cheaper, comparable EPAs being not that hard to find, it's not something I anticipate I'll be returning to frequently.

Final Grade: 3.52, a B grade.

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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 Zimbo
3.47/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

More reddy orange than brown, this had a light fluffy whispy head. Nice nose with an encouraging combination of spice, caramel and a dash of raisin come together to make me think of a freshly toasted hot crossed bone. This impression begins well to the taste bit it diappears as this beer stretches and then thins out before an encouraging slight tablet type quality at the end which is just a little too late to make up for the disappoinment of what it could have been or was.

Could have sworn this was better even when it was released as a bottle conditioned ale but sadly those days are long lost. A shame such a lacklustre beer should be named after such a great fighter. If it was up to me I'd rebadge it Boulton Paul Defiant.

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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 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 canucklehead
4/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I love cans and I am very happy to see another UK canned beer in BC. The Spitfire is a fairly malty pale ale with a thickish mouthfeel that holds up to stronger foods such as burgers with blue cheese. The hops are decidely English in profile but not overtly flowery. A great EPA for when the nights get colder and with the can it tastes fresh.

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

A - Poured an attractive light amber colour with a very large frothy head. The head retains great and creates decent lacing on the glass.

S - Aromas are of malts, grasses, citrus, hint of toffee/candy and light summer fruits.

T - Quite a variety of flavours on the palate here; first we have sweet fruits, biscuit malts, honey, caramel and a sort of syrupy sweetness, woody notes or a wood aged flavour, followed by a floral hoppiness.

MF - Medium carbonation, which I adds to the body and flavour, a reasonable light to medium, frothy mouthfeel. A delight to tumble about the palate indeed.

O - A lovely Kentish pale ale that is quite delicious and has a character to its own.

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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 flyingpig
3.49/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Dark, clear amber colour with a massive white, frothy head with good retention.

Sweet caramel notes are apparent from this beer upfront along with a nice biscuit smell too. There is a strong presence of summer fruits. Some hints of grain & alcohol too.

Quite fruity upfront, good citrus flavours too. The bread and malts are nice too and the bitter finish is a clean one.

Medium bodied with a solid, medium level of carbonation & a very smooth texture. Slightly dry finish.

Solid all round beer it only slightly let down by the mild hints of grain & alcohol I detected on the nose.

1001 Beers Blog:

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Photo of Shadman
4.04/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Impressive looking ale..bright clear golden yellow, with a rich, thick, creamy head and literally walls of lacing.

Aroma consists of slighty toasted grains and some herbal hop notes.

Rich pale malt flavour, slight hint of mineral-rich well water, followed by some withering hop bitterness..Finish is stlighty bitter..

Medium light body, slighty watery, but all-in all goes down quite smoothly

Very nice ale that's almost impoosible to stop at just one pint..refreshing on a summer's eve.

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Photo of jazzyjeff13
3.78/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A 500ml clear glass bottle with a BB of June 2012. Brewed to commemorate the battle of Britain and the plane that won it.

Poured into a Sam Smith's pint glass. A clear reddish-amber hue with good carbonation. Produces a large head of creamy off-white foam that lasts for a few minutes before reducing to a surface layer. Aroma of roasted malt with burnt notes, hints of caramel, butter, stewed hops, citrus and grass. A pleasing combination.

Tastes of roasted malt with a dry bitter finish. Notes of roasted grain, caramel, and stewed hops with a hint of citrus. The bitterness is slightly harsh and has a leafy character. A buttery diacetyl note lurks in the background. Mouthfeel is smooth, tingly and rather astringent. Aftertaste of bitter roasted malt.

A classic British ale. It might not be the best beer in the world but it's a fine example of an English bitter. A good depth of flavour with subtle bitterness, even if the aroma is better than the taste. One of Shepherd Neame's more worthy offerings. I would be happy to sink a few of these - definitely one to try if you have the chance.

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Photo of thomcatr3t
3.58/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Taken from notes from May 22, 2011. Pumped from cask into a 16 oz. pint glass at the Porcupine in London, Eng.

A: Dark red-brown in color. Nice 2 finger head that is nice and fluffy, looks like it will last.

S: Sweet bicuity malts. Not much going on in the way of hops on the nose.

T: I get all biscuit and caramel in this one. Some floral hops to round it out, but the malts steal the show in this one.

M: A little thin even with it being on cask. I can't imagine that the mouthfeel would be very good served from a bottle.

O: A nice malty real ale. Not the best beer I've ever had.

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Photo of shearer292
4/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - poured a dark amber colour, very clear with a one finger head which lasts a while. very nice looking beer.

Smell - i really like the smell, nice sweetness with a strong hop note, quite fruity but cant quite put my finger on exact fruit. little bit of biscuit too.

Taste - nice balance of sweetness and bitterness, like a citrus bitterness, maybe a little bit of wood on the finish and nutty.

Mouthfeel - quite smooth with medium carbonation, almost a fresh clean mouthfeel, i quite like this.

Overall - this is an all round clean refreshing beer that is easy drinking with its lower end ABV, i would buy this again.

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Photo of Kartoffeln
3.6/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a coppery amber with a big, fluffy cream-coloured head. Retention is good, gradually diminishing to a healthy layer of foam and leaving a fair amount of lacing.

S: Fresh fruity and floral hops mingle with toffee malts. Hints of citrus, turbinado sugar, and biscuit malts round out the nose.

T: Starts out with light, fruity hops and bready malts with a hint of honey, quickly giving way to pronounced toffee and nutty biscuit malts with loads of spicy, tangy, vegetal hop bitterness.

M: Body on the heavy end of medium, particularly due to high carbonation. It lends a crisp, refreshing dimension to the chewy body, but soon feels gassy. The balance rather leaves something to be desired, too: the bold hop bitterness makes for a long, tangy finish and demands a follow-up sip, but it overpowers other nuances in the flavour.

D: A decent English pale ale with a distinctly bitter, hoppy flavour. I find it skews the balance and makes the beer more finish than flavour, but it's certainly worth trying for yourself to see whether the tanginess suits your tastes.

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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 SmokinSmyth
3.76/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had this with a roast beef and yorkshire pudding dinner at the Runnin' Horses Pub in Leatherhead.

A deep red to copper color with a small head that actually hung around for a while.

Aroma dominated by malt and oranges.

Taste was quite good, with a strong finish. Felt very good in the mouth, not watery.

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Photo of rarbring
3.78/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Clear deep copper brew, an off-white, foamy head, good lacing.

Some hay, nuts and fruits, not very dominant smells.

Initial malt character, bread, porridge, some apples and bitter oranges, a good clean bitter finish.

Medium to high carbonation, medium body, soft texture a long dry finish.

A well balanced brew, straight and no fuss.

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