Coniston Brewing Co. Premium XB Bluebird Bitter

By: Benjamin Welton

The weather is cold and wet outside, and the wind is howling through the windows. Basically, it’s a murder mystery out there, and one full of abysmal writing to boot. Only a hack would equate a New England November with The Murder of Roger Ackroyd or the short stories of Edgar Allan Poe. Conversely, only a pretentious Anglophile, with Inspector Lewis on the mind and a ready quip about the Oxford comma on the tongue, would sit down to do a beer review with a plate of smoky Gouda and plastic cup full of pale ale.

Well, here I sit. Next to my left arm is a bottle of booze from Coniston Brewing Co., an Oxfordshire-based brewery. The bottle in question contains Premium XB Bluebird Bitter—a product that bills itself as “English Pale Ale with American Aroma Hops.” It seems that this English company is aware of the new wave of American brewing, and it is great to see that they are such outspoken supporters of the Special Relationship. Daniel Hannan, the world’s foremost cheerleader for the Anglosphere, would be proud.

xb-bluebird-bitterFirst impression: The bottle is a throwback, with the same shape and contours of its Victorian era ancestors. On top of that, the label is simplistic, soft, and sylvan—three adjectives that describe Great Britain when it is at its best. Finally, upon reading the label, I was impressed with not only Coniston’s description of their own product, but I was also charmed by the specificity of their serving suggestions. Apparently, the Premium XB Bluebird Bitter is best served at 58 degrees Fahrenheit and should be imbibed from one of the straight pint glasses at the Black Bull Inn in Coniston, Cumbria.

Pour: This beer pours with a foggy amber color that runs towards the lighter side of the spectrum. It almost looks like a yellow-amber hybrid, and its head is thin yet clearly present. In short, this is a balanced brew that is both smooth and active in its bubble race to the brim.

Taste: Without a doubt, this is one of the smoothest beers on the market. With mild hops and a vaguely citrus aroma, this beer is more refreshing than robust. In fact, its major drawback is its delicate taste. For a British beer, the Premium XB Bluebird Bitter is decidedly mild. Don’t expect this beer to keep you warm on the moors, but do consider it an option when the weather gets hot or when the cheese is mild. For my part, I picked a bad combination. I guess I’ll drown my sorrows in another beer.

Grade: B+

ABV: 4.2%

IBU: 25-40


Coniston Bluebird Bitter