It has been a long time coming, but here she is, Southwold’s finest. Coming into this year, if there was one beer I knew would get an instant five star rating, this was it. Broadside has been on the top of my otherwise ever changing top ten beer list for years, and there’re two main reasons why.
Firstly, it’s a Suffolk beer, brewed in one of my favourite places on earth, the beautiful seaside town of Southwold. It’s a place where I have many fond memories and although I’m not really a home-body I like having a beer from my home county to be really proud of.
Secondly, and most importantly, the flavour. Broadside is a deep brown, ruby coloured beverage, and fits perfectly into the category of a “fruitcake” beer, which, as I’ve discussed before, is pretty much the highest compliment I can pay. The beer has some sweet toffee malt to start, before it brings in dark fruits, mostly rich plums and cherries. There is plenty of hoppiness toward the end, but it’s a warming, toasty hop, not tangy. It really is best served only cool or even warm, and the fruit flavours come through more as the beer settles. Simply delicious.
The history behind the name is pretty cool as well. The beer was first brewed in 1970’s to celebrate the tercentenary of the Battle of Sole Bay, which took place off the coast of Southwold. It was a huge naval engagement (over 150 ships) between the English/French and Dutch fleets that took place in the Third Anglo-Dutch War in 1672. Although the battle was essentially a draw, the English lost their flagship, and would later go on to lose again against the same fleet in one of the final battles of the war.
The only downside to Broadside? In bottled form this is a 6.3% beer, fairly heavy, and it tends to send me to sleep after two or three. The cask version is normally a little weaker (although you can occasionally find it at its proper strength) so makes for a slightly less sluggish evening.