I was surprised to receive a package of beers from Staffordshire’s Freedom Brewery last month, with all bottles complete with new labels following a recent re-brand. The brewery sent me three bottles: Organic Helles, Authentic Lager and a new addition to its core range, East India Pale. Brewed with punchy US hops, and as I am an unapologetic hop-head, it’s no surprise that the latter was the standout.
The Organic Helles (formerly titled Freedom Organic Lager) had a light caramel flavour, gentle bitterness and a clean, crisp finish, while the Authentic Lager (brewed with First Gold and Challenger hops) was similarly crisp and refreshing, with light citrus and herbal notes. While both are good lagers, it was the East India Pale, brewed with Cascade, Chinook and Centennial hops, that really impressed. Lager/IPA hybrids are commonplace nowadays and I’ve not always got on with them, but this is a fantastic beer. With a light caramel/toasted malt background, it was bursting with tropical fruit aromas, and the taste was juicy with grapefruit and mango, with a pleasing bitterness (a “juicy banger”, dare I say?).
I assume the garish re-brand is intended to make Freedom’s bottles stand out among the similarly colourful, and often creative, labels we associate with many craft beer breweries, but I found it to resemble the contents of a child’s colouring-in book. Regardless, while I’ve no idea what Freedom’s distribution arrangements are (I for one don’t often see its bottles), I’d definitely pick up a few India Pale Ales if I saw it again.
Disclaimer: These beers were sent to me unsolicited (I didn’t even get a heads up). But unlike those curmudgeons who moaned about the gratis U2 iTunes album, I’m thankful, and I don’t feel this fact determined the tone of the comments above.