Sinking in the waters green

The Ghost Ship

haunts the sea


When I lived in the south-east Adnam’s was one of the names you’d regularly see on bars, along with Tolly Cobbold and Greene King. Before too long one of them was no more, while one had morphed into a weird kind of junior Whitbread, destroyer of breweries. And Adnam’s? I hadn’t paid them any mind until a few months ago, when I was in a London pub offering Adnam’s Broadside, Shep’s Spitfire and, er, that’s it. I had a couple of pints of Broadside and really enjoyed it; so much for the myth of the conservative regional brewers and their boring brown bitter, I thought, and ordered a pint of Spitfire. Ah. Oh well. Never mind.

So Adnam’s have a pretty good name hereabouts, and I was pleased to be offered a sample of Ghost Ship – a beer they’ve been running for a while as a seasonal, which is going to be a permanent feature of their bottled range. Apart from anything else, it’s nice when PR companies recognise that not everyone can attend press launches on the other side of the country – although Adnam’s event was in Southwold rather than the more usual choice of That London, which may be why their PR was more geographically aware.

The bottle arrived, anyway – a standard 500 ml bottle (I did wonder a bit when they talked about ‘samples’) – and I drank it. Very nice it was too, and actually quite interesting, in a sessionable kind of way. It’s a crisp pale beer, with plenty of Citra in the mix, but there’s a bit more than that going on. It’s not malty by any means, but it’s not thin and astringent in the way that many hoppy yellow beers are; it’s genuinely balanced, to use an over-used term, in a way that makes it all the more drinkable (unless you’re a dyed-in-the-wool hop-monster). At the same time, there’s another layer of hop in the aroma, which is smoky and herbal in the best “hop-forward” style. All in all it’s a very drinkable light summer beer, but with some subtleties that emerge gradually over the course of a bottle; not hoppy exactly, but certainly post-hoppy. I’ve raved in the past about low-strength IPAs from St Austell and Holt’s, and there’s something similar – and perhaps more complex – going on here.

Many thanks to the people at Adnam’s; feel free to keep them coming, and I’ll keep on saying what I think.

Coincidentally, this song, which appeared on my folk song blog last week, is sometimes catalogued as “The ghost ship”; my source – more prosaically and more accurately – called it “The ghost song”. (There is a ship, and there’s a ghost on the ship, but it’s not a ghost ship.) My original plan was also to record Robyn Hitchcock’s song (which is called) “The ghost ship”, but midway through practising I got bored with it. Which is why I mostly do folk songs – they don’t wear out so quickly.

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