An Englishman’s first love is his brown ale. However, in the summer he often fancies blondes instead! With this inspiration, we’ve created Newcastle Bombshell, an English style blonde ale.
English Pale Ale, 4.4% ABV
*This beer was provided by the brewery for the purpose of a review.
Ryan: We’ve noticed, and perhaps you have too, our beer writing has slowed significantly this summer. And that’s because it’s summer. A time to drink as opposed to drink and write. A time to enjoy a light, crisp beer in the backyard, or front stoop or just about anywhere — really.
Believe it or not, this brings us to Newcastle’s Bombshell, the brewery’s summer offering and ongoing attempt to expand its portfolio beyond its signature brown ale.
I like Newcastle Brown. Always have. We tried their cold-weather offering, Winter IPA, earlier this year and found it to be a lot like the brown but with a kiss of hops. I let that one slide because, again, I like the Brown and didn’t mind that the Winter IPA didn’t stray very far from the flagship beer. But in all reality, if you’re going to do something different then do something different. And the Bombshell is different.
Pouring out a slightly hazy straw in color, the Bombshell is no more intimidating than a glass of apple juice — which is acceptable because summer is not a time for intimidating beers.
The nose gives us a hint of sweetness. Perhaps it is adjunct sweetness, but that’s okay by us. Take a slug — there’s no need to really sip this one — and you’re greeted with a creamy, slightly sweet beer (pear juice, maybe?) punctuated by a crisp and slightly bitter finish. Sure that finish may have a bit of a medicinal bitterness to it, but overall this goes down rather smooth.
In fact, the Newcastle Bombshell is unremarkably drinkable, which is just fine with me.
Karl: I’ve been much harsher in the past on these Newcastle varietals, possibly because — like Ryan said above — I have always liked the original Newcastle brown ale. It was one of the first brews to make me take notice of more than just the standard college gamut of beers; so much so that it became a go-to when I wanted something a little different from Busch Light (I know, how in the world could that be, right?) and even a half-step above Beck’s and Heineken.
My continued disdain for last year’s Newcastle Summer Ale sticks in my brain to this day, and my general indifference for the Winter IPA and the Werewolf still stand out as well. Which is why it should come as some sort of praise when I say Newcastle Bombshell didn’t actively make me dislike it.
Pouring cider-pale with a thin eggshell white head, this brew showed some good sparkle and carbonation throughout the thin, drinkable-bordering-on-watery body. Sweet up front, like a blonde should be, with aromas of light citrus and strangely, seawater (yes, seawater), there’s no noticeable finish other than some flat, chemical and slightly metallic off-flavor.
While I didn’t find there to be much of anything special at all about the Newcastle Bombshell, it’s the first beer where I feel like they actually did something in the brewing process other than making up another batch of Newcastle Brown and pitching in some other unfit flavors on top of it. As there seems to be a little extra effort expended here, I can’t say I’d never drink it again, and the 4.4% ABV makes this quite sessionable, should you find yourself in a world where your only available blonde is this one.