In my review of Worthington’s White Shield last year, I stated that given the choice between it and Fuller’s Bengal Lancer, I would probably choose the Bengal Lancer. I had the chance at the weekend to drink both and I’m not sure I still stick by that statement.
I really like Bengal Lancer, there’s just something about the marmalade taste that you get in certain Fuller’s beers, that strikes a chord with my taste buds. I also really like White Shield though, that sulphurous nose and pleasing bitter tickle it gives your tongue is so morish.
When I find myself in a shop that sells both, I’ve found that I’ve only been buying White Shield. I’d love to try both on cask, I recently just missed some cask White Shield at The Mitre in Cambridge. Hopefully it will be more of a regular occurrence down these parts, as Molson Coors seem to have been on a bit of a cask crusade over the last few months.
Firstly, at the end of last year, they opened a brand new new brewery at the National Brewing Centre, called the William Worthington’s Brewery. This new brewery has taken over from the old White Shield Brewery and will be producing lots of different Worthington’s cask and bottled ales.
Secondly, they announced just last week, that they were buying Cornwall based Sharp’s Brewery, home of Doom Bar. I’ve only ever had the one pint of Doom Bar, it was in Venice, of all places and wasn’t particularly good. I’m not particularly qualified to talk about if this is a good match, or what the ramification are, if you’re interested in that, Pete Brown has an excellent article.
Thirdly, it was announced today, that they are also to produce 16 seasonal cask ales and they’ll be available to Molson Coors independent on-trade customers. I hope there’s at least one of those in Cambridge, as I’d quite like to try some of the beers that have been announced, especially the extensions to the Worthington’s range.
After seeing White Shield nearly disappear (I didn’t see a bottle for ten years) and the Worthington’s brand being nearly ruined by some cream flow rubbish (remember the "It’s a man thing" adverts…?), it’s really great to see a major player in the UK beer industry pushing cask again. I hope that all this activity can be sustained and promoted correctly, so that it makes an impact and takes cask ale into places where it might not have had much exposure.
Finally, I was lucky enough to get hold of a bottle of Celebration Shield, which was brewed for the opening of the new William Worthington’s Brewery. Also in the box was a bottle each of White Shield, Red Shield and P2, so I have to say a big thank you to Kristy McCready from Molson Coors for sending those through (you should follow her on Twitter, she’s not your average corporate drone).