Now that spring has sprung, the ivy at Wrigley is slowly starting to leaf out and all Irish drinking holidays are behind us, the beer version of spring fever takes over. Gone are the cravings of thick, creamy stouts and spicy winter warmers–it is time for the hops, fruit and lightness of warm weather beer. Fuller’s London Pride not only epitomizes the English Pale Ale style, it is ideal drinking both during and long after the seasonal transition.
Unlike its hoppier cousins brewed in Oregon and California, London Pride is of the maltier variety more or less impossible to differentiate from English bitter. A descendant of the amber-colored October beers brewed in the English countryside, pale ale became popular in London during the eighteenth century and it eventually became the unofficial national beer of England. It is an excellent hybrid beer offering a malt backbone, well-developed hop notes and hints of citrus.
When poured into a pint glass, London Pride is a clear and clean honey color with an amber tint. Two fingers of thick, eggshell-colored head will develop and dissipate slowly to leave trails of foam along the glass, a creamy cap and a ring around the edge.
Built on a base of a lightly kilned malt, which lends its “pale ale” name to the style, London Pride smells of sweet and slightly toasted caramel, honey, oven-warmed sweet chestnuts, lemon citrus and British hops. The first sip is packed with an adequate, though very tame, floral hop bitterness. Following just behind are sweet and toasted caramel, honey and a little lemon zest, which provides a lingering bitterness after each mouthful.