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Spitfire Kentish Ale “The Bottle of Britain”

Posted by on in March 2014 Editions
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Spitfire Kentish Ale has an interesting back-story.  During World War II, Messerschmidt fighters from the German Luftwaffe dominated the air war over Britain until the Spitfire, a new Rolls Royce powered airplane, entered the fray and changed the outcome of the Battle of Britain. In 1990, fifty years after the battle, Shepherd Neame, Britain’s oldest brewer (1698), brewed Spitfire Kentish Ale in a onetime effort to commemorate the success of the airplane in saving Britain and to raise funds for the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund.  An unplanned success, Spitfire became popular and has remained in production since then, and during the past two years the brand has become the fastest growing bottled ale in Britain.

When poured into a wide mouthed pint glass, the beer is the color of blood orange and sports a thick off white head. As the beer is consumed, traces of foam lace remain while small bubble carbonation continues to rise in the glass.

Spitfire Kentish Ale has a pleasant aroma of both hops and malt.  The brewmaster uses two local hops known for their aromatic qualities: East Kent Golding and First Golding hops.  Although each of these hops varieties are often found individually in English ales, the combination of the two gives off a really nice fragrance with a fresh hop aroma. 

As a counter balance to the hop bitterness, English Pale Malt and English Crystal Malt add sweetness.  The result is a detectable flavor of blood orange, marmalade and pepper.  After panoply of nice flavor and sensations, the beer finishes dry with a refreshing burst of bitter hop aftertaste.

The Shepherd Neame brewery is particularly proud of the fact that all of the ingredients used in Spitfire Ale are grown within forty miles of the brewery.

Spitfire Kentish Ale has won its share of awards including: in 2013 a Bronze award and in 2012 a Silver in the International Beer Challenge, 2012 Silver award at the World Cup  and in 2009 the Monde Selection Grand Gold award. In typical stoic English fashion, a recent advertisement simply says, “….Spitfire is quite a good session beer”.  At 4.5% alcohol by volume, it is easy to drink several at one sitting.  This is a beer you can easily recommend to your customers who are looking for something a bit different.

Spitfire Kentish Ale is imported by the Moosehead Brewery, and is distributed in Maryland by Bond Distributors, Bozick Distributors, DM Distributors, and Northeast Distributors.


Al Horton retired after 27 years with Bob Hall LLC, a beer distributor in Upper Marlboro, MD. In addition to his journalistic duties for The Beverage Journal, Al is currently an Adjunct Business Instructor at Anne Arundel Community College.