Worthington White Shield is a beer to get excited about. It is the oldest surviving example of an India Pale Ale in existence and it is the most awarded beer in British history. It has proven itself to be an incredibly consistent beer and is still scooping up the accolades even a hundred and ninety years after the first barrel was produced.
The beer has a clear, bronzy colour with a toffee and banana taste and a lasting bitter finish. Jo Preece who brews the beer describes it as “The definitive India Pale Ale (IPA). The king of bottled beers”.
It is a ‘live’ beer meaning that the yeast used to brew it is still working its magic, keeping it drinkable and even maturing the flavour.
“As the beer is still alive it will keep for years. I have tried some that was twenty years old. It was slightly darker but had not lost its sing” says Jo.
One of the most interesting things about this beer is the fact that the recipe has remained relatively unchanged since the 30’s (the 1830’s that is) when it was first brewed and shipped over to India to quench the thirst of the near mutinous troops of the British Empire.
It could almost be classed as a historic artefact. Indeed it is very fitting that it is brewed for cask in the William Worthington micro brewery at the National Brewery Centre amongst so many other iconic brewing objects. Even better, it is a historic artefact that you can drink!
“Worthington White Shield can be enjoyed by itself, with cheese or with beef. I like my Worthington White Shield from the fridge. It intensifies the Co2” says Jo.
Amazingly, this most historic ale is still going strong and has recently the gold award for the ‘Best Bottle Conditioned Beer’ at CAMRA’s Great British Brewing Awards.
This underlines the importance of beer as part of our social history. It has a past, present and future. It is something that men and women from all walks of life have made and drunk for thousands of years and by tracing back its history, we can also trace some of our own.
Written by Kathryn Worthington