Newcastle made a name for itself a long time ago when it introduced Newcastle Brown Ale to the world. Newcastle Brown isn’t the greatest brown ale, but it is still good and it is probably the most recognized name in its class. Today, Newcastle has branched out beyond the brown with four limited edition products. The latest one is Newcastle Founder’s Ale, a beer named in honor of the five founding breweries of Newcastle.
Style: English Pale Ale
Calories: 144 per 12 oz. serving
Alcohol Content: 4.8 percent by volume
Looking at the basics, Newcastle Founder’s Ale pours to an amber/orange hue with a nose that combines biscuits, bread, a small amount of fruit, and a touch of peat. The body of the beer is completely clear and well- filtered and the foam level, while less than impressive, does maintain a thin layer as you consume. The flavor profile is pleasant, with tastes such as caramel, toffee, bread, and sweet malts. There is a toasted/roasted dimension to the malty component and the flavor offers a small amount of herbs and even a hint of pear.
Newcastle Founder’s Ale is a pale ale by name, but it is brewed in the British tradition of a pale ale so it is quite different from the pale ales that American craft breweries have produced over the years. The flavor profile with Newcastle Founder’s Ale leans toward the sweet side with a touch of dryness in the end and with a lower bitterness rating than most examples of the pale ale style. Looking at the official numbers, this ale has a bitterness rating of just 20 IBU. This is not only less bitter than the typical pale ale, it is also less bitter than most other beers in the market.
Newcastle Founder’s Ale is a little light on taste and doesn’t offer the full body common to many of the great English Pale Ale. This fact could win the product some fans, but also some criticism. The lighter body and easy- drinking style will be just fine with casual beer drinkers who want something smoother and less pronounced. But beer connoisseurs are likely to take issue with the lighter body and taste. I find the flavor profile intriguing due to the complex tastes of toffee, barley, fruit, caramel, and herbs, but I am also a little disappointed that the body is this light. In other words, I like what I taste, but I wish there was more of it.
Newcastle Founder’s Ale is one of four of Newcastle’s limited release products and, like the others, it is going to be available in the United States for only a set number of months each year. It will be sold in six packs and twelve pack from February, 2012 through April, 2012 to be followed by the other products in Newcastle’s limited edition series: Newcastle Summer Ale, Newcastle Werewolf, and Newcastle Winter Ale.
Newcastle’s iconic Brown Ale is known the world over, but Newcastle Founder’s Ale will likely never grow to enjoy such a high level of name recognition due to its limited release status. Even if it was a year- round brew, I am not sure it would catch on with all beer fans for the reason cited above. Still, in spite of its flaws, it is still a good session beer and a nice, easy- drinking example of an English pale ale. It’s not the type of beer that will blow you away with its greatness, but it still has enough of the good qualities I expect in a beer to make it deserving of a try.
Rating: 6 cheers out of 10