Tiger vs Pump Fiction: A Rugby Union Bitter Special

17 May

Today I’m going to be doing something different.Why? Saturday week is the final of the English Rugby Union Premiership at Twickenham, and this year it could be a particularly charged final, at least in Leicester. Why? Because not only have the Leicester Tigers made it to the final, but they’re going to be facing the Northampton Saints, making the final one big East Midlands derby.

So in the spirit of the moment, I’ll be reviewing not one but two bitters today; Leicester’s Everards Tiger, and Northants’ Hoggleys Pump Fiction, to help give you an idea of what you should be drinking come 3pm on the 25th.

Name: Tiger
Brewer: Everards
Type: Best Bitter
Alcohol Volume: 4.2
From: Morrisons, Leicester
Price: £1.99
Drink: Cool to Ambient
In short: A reliable and refreshing Best Bitter; a workhorse of beer, in the best way possible

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I think it’s fair to say that Everards is ubiquitous in Leicester, being both the local major brewery, and having a pub estate of over 160 pubs within 70 miles of Leicester. If you drink ale and spend any amount of time in Leicester pubs, it’s highly likely you’ll be drinking a fair amount of their beer.

Tiger, then, is Everards’ flagship Best Bitter and the official beer of the Leicester Tigers. Given that I live in Leicester, I can’t in good conscience omit it from a feature that mentions Rugby Union and ale in the same sentence.

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At its heart, Tiger is a quintessential Best Bitter: well-balanced pale ale of medium strength that refreshes whilst still possessing a fair degree of substance. It certainly has the right colouring; in the glass it has dark amber character and creamy head that looks exactly like an artist’s impression of a bitter.

This impression carries through into the taste – it’s neither bitter nor sweet, but balanced between the two, with a taste that lies somewhere between nutty and toffee toned. This carried with it an initially sweet aftertaste that fades into a mild and agreeable bitterness that gently coats the mouth with the taste of hops.

In essence, Tiger is the sort of beer that I’d have no problem with spending an afternoon of ruby watching with.

Name: Pump Fiction
Brewer: Hoggleys
Type: Best Bitter
Alcohol Volume: 4.5
From: The Co-Op, Clarendon Park
Price: £1.99
Drink: Cool to Ambient
In short: An aggressive bitter, with strong tones of malt and a wintery warmth.

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Pump Fiction is a rather different prospect. Granted, it might have a similar colouring; it might lean a bit more towards golden than amber, but, as with Tiger, it’s exactly what you’d expect from a Best Bitter.

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On tasting, however, it’s immediately clear that this is a far meaner bitter. The smoky tones of roasted malt hit with a more aggressive force; if Tiger reminds me of autumn, Pump Fiction reminds me of winter.

Not that it isn’t balanced, mind, but it’s balanced towards the realm of bitterness, with just a hint of sweetness. Nor does it skimp on the hops, with the malt giving way to a lovely hoppy finish and a comforting warmth at the back of the mouth.

Still, comparing it with Tiger is probably a little bit unfair – the strong taste reminds me more of Everards’ Premium Bitter, Original. But perhaps a touch of strength and aggressiveness is just what you need to accompany t   he rugby.

Still I know which of the too I’ll be drinking. But, then again, I’m just a touch biased.

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