Shepherd Neame sent me a bottle of Generation in a nice wooden box, an oblong coffin shape almost, that might be just right for a fairy if such things exist (I did once write a story about people who believe in them for the Field) — 9% in strength, a lot of maturation, English hops and a welcome brew from a brewery whose beers are very much in the mainstream (does the mainstream matter — discuss). I like big beers like this, old fashioned big beers like this. I like big alcoholic bruisers like this. I like the boozy, fruity (as in ripe plums whose skins burst with the merest of pressure or that sort of raisiny, ripe white grape and bubblegum — close to Bazooka Joe even — fruitiness that can transport one back through time) character on the nose and the almond-like, alcoholic, Christmas cake-lite, sherry stickiness, barley husk dryness, estery fruitiness finish that came to mind with the first swig. I do like the crimson sunlit colour that resides in my glass as well. I suspect I should have saved this beer for another year but on this wet and chilly day (end of April —ridiculous isn’t?) I wanted a sustaining beer that I could connect with in front of the fire while enjoying Vollmann’s Europe Central. I do hope Sheps do another vintage of this, it’s a rather beautiful beer — and it makes me wonder and ponder and suggest that one of the great by-products of the ‘craft beer revolution’ in the past few years has been that the old family breweries have realised that they can make beers that astound. Fuller’s are well ahead of the game as are St Austell and Adnams, and now Sheps have sent their players out (while with Greene King I would like to see a nip of their 5X bottled and sent out into the world — I had some once and devoted an inordinate time to inspecting its dry Fino, musty, yeasty, meaty, almost tangy character). Oh and as the Generation lingers in the glass the flavours swirl about with the dizzy delight of giddy passengers on a fairground carousel. And so I would say to the old brewers of Britain — more of this sort of beer please.