One of the things I love about beer is that every beer and brewery has a story, and sometimes the story is as interesting as the beer itself. That is the case with the Hook Norton Brewery, located in Oxfordshire County, England. The brewery is one of the last remaining Victorian 'tower breweries' and they have been brewing at the site since 1849. Even more interesting, the brewery still employs the use of a steam engine that has been running for almost 110 years. It is believed to be the oldest running steam engine in England that is still used for its original purpose. And if that is not enough history and charm, they also have shire horses that deliver the beer in the local area. If I were visiting England, this would be high on my list of places to visit. For more info, see their wiki page, or this blog.
Obviously there is a reason for all of this talk about a historic brewery in England. They have released a special holiday beer, the Twelve Days. I'll be honest, I haven't been drinking a lot of English beers in the past few years. While I cut my teeth on beers like Samuel Smiths and Fullers, I have tended towards drinking more brash American beers, or funky Belgians. I really need to go back across the pond to sample a few more beers from this storied beer country. The Twelve Days is a dark English bitter, and it really shines with a toasted, nutty malt flavor that dominates the beer. As stated on the website, this beer would go excellent with some nutty cheeses. The Twelve Days would be considered mild by American standards, but it is delicious none the less. England has a long tradition of doing special beers for Christmas, and I hope to try a few more during the holiday season.