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Vintage Roots

by Tom Cannavan, 09/09

Vintage Roots has been the UKs leading home delivery supplier of high quality organic wines, beers and spirits since 1986, with all products by the case and in some interesting pre-mixed cases. The company offers a wealth of expertise on organic produce and says their produce is "honest with your taste buds, honest with your wallet and free from chemical adulteration." Vintage Roots sent beer-pages a selection of its beer portfolio to taste, covering a wide range of styles and countries of origin.   

the 'Organic Ark' case

At time of writing these beers constitute one of Vintage Roots' pre-mixed cases of 20 beers: two bottles each of 10 ales, for £37.95. The beers in the selection are subject to change, but you can see the current line-up and order the beers via

Badger Brewery, River Cottage Stinger Nettle Beer (England)
Cook Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall supplies the hand-harvested organic nettles from his Dorset HQ for this beer (brewed by Badger brewery) that transports me back to seaside holidays in Morecombe as a teenager, when a glass of nettle beer was a daily tipple! Quite subtle nettle, lemon and orange aromas, with a hint of biscuit. Wonderfully fresh on the palate, the nettles still fairly discreet, behind plenty of hoppy bite, citrus and a softening edge of malt. Deliciously drinkable. 4.5% ABV, 50cl, 2.30, Vintage Roots.
Samuel Smith's, Organic Lager (England)
This broad-shouldered pint (well, 550ml) bottle of Sam Smith's Organic Lager is a handsome beast, and the beer lives up to that promise. Pouring a pale- to medium gold with a decent white head, there are immediately nettly, herb abd caraway seed note, with plenty of zippy lemon fruit beneath. There's a hint of richer malt too, in a complex aromatic profile. In the mouth this is dry and savoury, with a fine, lemon-sharp zest and bitterness, the edges just rounded-out by more sweet, caramelly malt, but the crisp, juicy finish immediately re-asserts. Grown-up stuff. 5.0% ABV, 550ml, 2.15, Vintage Roots.
Samuel Smith's, Organic Best Ale (England)
Pouring a rich, deep gold with a hint of ruby and a thick off-white head, this beer has a luxurious nose, with plenty of creamy, bready malt notes and a nice edge of chicory or bitter leaves. On the palate it has terrific freshness, the hops and a zesty fruit character balanced nicely against roasted grain. 5.0% ABV, 55cl, 2.15, Vintage Roots.
Freedom Brewery, Lager (England)
Made with organic hops and malt, this pours a golden colour with a moderate white head. There's a powerful citrus character on the nose, a grainy quality and fair amount of biscuity malt. In the mouth this is fresh and appetising, but a subtle depth and bittersweet quality sets it up nicely for a second - and third - sip. 4.8% ABV, 33cl, 1.35, Vintage Roots.
Freedom Brewery, Dark Lager (England)
A dark lager made with a blend of four malts, the crystal and cara producing a deep ruby red colour and thin, off-white head. Rich malty and caramel notes dominate the nose, though there's a robust red fruit character too, and a little oily hop quality. On the palate the low carbonation and hint of sweetness is offset by the malt and a bit of citrus cut. 4.7% ABV, 33cl, 1.39, Vintage Roots.
Little Valley, Withens IPA (England)
This bottle-conditioned organic IPA pours a deep, bright gold with a rich off-white head. It is late-hopped with Cascade hops, and there's a distinctive - and attractive - floral and orange note on the nose, as well as a grassy quality. On the mouth it is quite citrussy and has more of that grassy, nettle cut, finishing dry and clean. 3.9% ABV, 50cl, 1.95, Vintage Roots.
Caledonian, Golden Promise Organic Beer (Scotland)
Golden promise claims to be the world's first organic beer, brewed in the early 1990's from Scottish malt and English Target hops. It pours a nice deep gold, with a hint of bronze, and a moderate, off-white head. It is a very appealing, pure beer on the nose, with toasty grains, a hint of honey and plenty of leafy hop aromas. There is a tiny sulphur note in there, but it is not off-putting. On the palate it is smooth and creamy, with medium body and a very citrussy, fresh style. The acidity and sharpness of this beer is good, with a bitter hop bite and quite long finish. A very nice organic beer that is light and summery. 5.0% ABV, 50cl, 1.99, Vintage Roots.
Brakspear, Oxford Gold (England)
Brakspear's Oxford Gold uses all-organic ingredients, including English Target hops and late hopping with Goldings. It pours a light amber colour, with a rich white head. There's a punchy orange and almost tropical fruitiness to the nose, with complex sultana hints and a little caramel malt behind. On the palate this walks a nice line between thick, sweet, malty character and bittersweet, resinous hops, to produce a really nice, dry, chewy style of ale. 4.6% ABV, 50cl, 1.99, Vintage Roots.
Vintage Roots, Organic English Beer (England)
Brewed for Vintage Roots by Peter Scholey using English Target hops. This pours an amber colour with a creamy head. The nose is soft and fruity, with a deal of spice too and an orangey toffee note. Quite smooth and creamy on the palate, it does have a bit of bite, with the hops kicking in to just ruffle the surface of a smooth, sippable beer. 4.1% ABV, 50cl, 1.85, Vintage Roots.
Fullers, Honey Dew Organic (England)
Target hops and organic honey are in the recipe of this pale- to medium-golden beer, with a white, gentle persistent head. On the palate there are notes of oatmeal and brown bread, with, yes, a hint of honey and some nettly hops. On the palate it has a rich, roasted malty flavour at first, with a fresh, juicy fruit palate and good hop bite. The caramel of the malt and freshness of the beer show strongly into the finish, and the honey is very much a bit-part player in a nice beer. 5.0% ABV, 50cl, 2.15, Vintage Roots.

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