A soap opera and a live television spectacle rolled into one, Saturday’s royal wedding is the real life Hollywood fairytale of an actress marrying a prince. It’s also the story of a young Briton and a young American making some waves.
As an American of British ancestry, I’m not a big fan of royalty — because, you know, 1776 and all that. But making waves is something I can get behind.
Of course, I am a big fan of British music, from the Beatles and the Stones to the Clash and P J Harvey. And I’ve been a devotee of historic British beer since I first tasted a proper pint pulled in a London pub.
And so in honor Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s nuptials, this week’s Beer Pick is the historic Fuller’s ESB.
Fuller’s Brewery, Chiswick, West London
Available in bottles and occasionally on draft
The Fuller's Brewery was founded in 1845 in Chiswick, West London, and it currently brews the popular London Pride, along with 1845 Strong Ale and a range of other, newer beers. But Fuller’s ESB is my favorite. It was first launched in 1969 as a winter seasonal and made year-round beginning in 1971, virtually inventing the Extra Special Bitter style.
The venerable British beer writer Michael Jackson defined ESB as fuller in color, maltier, fruiter and less hoppy than an IPA. Let’s just say, that by today’s standards, it’s very balanced and easy to drink, especially on draft, with a rich malt and British hop character, and soft notes of caramel, pepper and orange peel. Just beware of bottles that have been on the shelf too long.
Fuller’s suggests pairing ESB with steak and chips, reasoning that “this full bodied ale has the depth to stand up to the big flavour of a steak.” But I think it would pair with all kinds of pub grub, including fish and chips, or the full English “fry-up” for a royal breakfast.