Over the weekend, I decided to crack open the “Used Our Loaf” range of brewskies from Marks & Spencer and Adnams Southwold. A selection of beers brewed by Adnams that makes use of left over bread from Marks & Spencer.
The idea being that quantities of surplus bread from Marks & Spencer is blended in with the more traditional grain bill of a selection of beer styles to aid in reusing ingredients and minimizing waste.
Surplus bread from Marks & Spencer is already used as animal feed, but this creates another route where left over ingredients can be used in a positive and more unusual way.
Other examples already exist on the market including the award-winning Toast Ale here in the UK and AncestrAle over in Italy, but their focus has been on more straight up styles such as the lager, pale and American Pale.
Marks & Spencer and Adnams have a British pale ale in their arsenal that makes use of the left over bread, but they have also come up with a Raspberry Fruit Beer and an Earl Grey Pale Ale to change things up a little.
Let’s dive in and see what they are all about shall we?
Southwold Pale Ale: Triple English Hop – 3.6% – Brewed as an English Blonde ale and packed with 3 new English hop varieties (Jester, Ernest and Endeavour) to offer a citrus and gooseberry scent along with a malty balanced finish.
|Appearance||Southwold Pale Ale is straw to pale straw in colour and is beautifully clear. A powerful and lively white head forms which sits around for ages after pouring.|
|Aroma||With all the American pales that I’ve been having of late, it’s nice to be taking in more of the spicy, floral and somewhat citric elements of a British pale with a touch of tartness.
There is a touch of the bready and grainy malts towards the back, but this is more of a hop forward pale.
|Flavour||Hop forward in flavour as it was in the aroma.
big floral and citric hits get the ball rolling with a touch of peppery spice.
When the hops settle, an obvious bread flavour moves in with some toasted notes.
A restrained, and hoppy bitterness finishes things up.
|Mouthfeel||Lightly carbonated but with enough bubbly action to give a chewy texture which helps deliver a slightly bolder body.
The restrained bitterness is noticeable on the sides of the tongue but not overkill in sensation.
|Overall||Southwold Pale Ale is the richest of the three and the most hop forward but still perfectly refreshing and easy drinking.
Despite the hoppy nature of the pale, the bread and malts still manage to come through nicely.
With the hops, malts and restrained bitterness, it makes for a well-rounded and tasty British pale.
Raspberry Fruit Beer – 4.5% – Opting for a light blonde beer, similar to the Southwold pale, but with the addition of First gold & cascade hops as well as raspberry juice to create a refreshing, fruity beer with a little tartness.
|Appearance||The Raspberry Fruit Beer is a vibrant yet light red colour and completely clear in body.
The head is ivory in colour with a very subtle pink hue and although lively at first, settles really quickly with a fine layer remaining on the surface and around the edges of the glass.
|Aroma||The raspberries pile on the fruity and berry aromas.
Although not as punchy and unusual as a fruit lambic, the tart berries still manage to shine through in a similar way.
A little of the bread and grains manage to come through but it’s the fruit that does all the talking here.
|Flavour||The Raspberries are the first thing to hit you a mixture of the sweet and tart.
As the berries start to settle, a little of the bread starts to move in whilst the fruit continues to zing the sides of the toungue and mouth.
Not an ounce of bitterness this time around.
|Mouthfeel||Lightly carbonated with a light to medium light body.
Without the bitterness and more citric elements, M&S’s Fruit Beer feels smooth and as such a little rounder in body.
Another light and refreshing beer.
|Overall||The Raspberry Fruit Beer could make a really good, beery replacement for Pimm’s – Really accessible to those who would maybe shy away from fruity beers.
With the bitterness being low, you could easily add plenty of cucumber, mint and other botanicals to change the resulting flavour and feel of the beer.
Alternatively, you could keep it simple like me and make the most of the easy drinking nature of this Raspberry Fruit Beer.
Earl Grey Pale Ale – 5.0% – Finally on the cards is a citrussy pale ale, hopped up with Galaxy & Ella with hints of tea and bergamot.
|Appearance||The Earl Grey Pale Ale is straw to pale straw in colour and produces a small white head of tightly packed bubbles which settle very quickly.
The Pale itself is Perfectly clear once again.
|Aroma||A balanced blend of the citric and herbal Earl Grey (and bergamot) aromas as well as the toasted and bready notes of the M&S bread & malts.
There is a touch of sweetness noticeable on the nose too.
|Flavour||Fairly balanced in terms of flavour but leans more on the side of the bready and malty notes.
The Earl Grey and bergamot move in, offering a little freshness on the palate before a spicy\peppery bitterness takes over and sits around for ages after swallowing.
|Mouthfeel||Lightly carbonated and really light in body too.
A really easy drinker with a bitterness that stays for days.
|Overall||A refreshing pale and one that I could happily drink plenty more of.
Crisp and light, managing to do a good job of showcasing the use of bread within a classic beer style with the addition of the tea-based elements.
The flavours work well and have changed my opinion about using Earl Grey and bergamot in a beverage of any kind.
All in all, this taste test of the “Used Our Loaf” range of beers by Marks & Spencer and Adnams was really positive.
The intention was to blend old loaves of bread with a more traditional grain bill which has resulted in well bodied beers.
The addition of ingredients such as Raspberries, Earl Grey and the varying hop varieties make for an interesting selection of beers.
I really think that Marks & Spencer and Adnams have achieved what they set out to produce. I would be more than happy to try new variations as well as revisiting these three classics again, particularly in the summer.
It would be interesting to see if Marks & Spencer and Adnams would consider making an ale on the darker spectrum that makes use of the leftover bread in either a toasted form, or with the addition of something interesting like rauche (Smoked) malts.
Adnams have a plenty of background about the process involved and the beers on their website and if you are interested in trying them for yourselves, pop on down to your nearest M&S right now!
If you have had an opportunity to try any of the range then visit @hop_pilot and let me know what you thought of M&S’s Used Our Loaf range.