Origin: Ickburgh, Norfolk, England
Date: 25 September 2000
Another review from the archive written for the pioneering Oxford Bottled Beer Database (OBBD). I’ve left it uncorrected — so please read it in that historical spirit. The beer is still in Iceni founder Brendan Moore’s range today.
The intriguing label designs from this Norfolk-based micro resemble the open pages of a book, explaining the mainly Celtic connections of their product names. Here we see the eponymous Deirdre, “the fairest and most beautiful of all the daughters of Ulster [who] will bring sorrow and pain to all the heroes of Ulster”, cradling one man while another lies pinioned by a spear, while people apparently armed with umbrellas and riot shields look on.
Quite how this relates to the beer is not clear: it’s not at all like a contemporary Irish-style ale, though perhaps, as the authors of CAMRA’s Good Bottled Beer Guide speculate, the inclusion of roasted barley in the grist is in tribute to Hibernian brewing practices.
Poured clear, the pale copper beer is lively and forms a rich, thick, well-sustained head, giving off aromas of elusive herby hops, barley sugar-sweet malt, wood and a hint of roastiness. The beer is very well-textured, with a complex taste and a refreshingly light touch reminiscent of altbier: there’s biscuity malt with a definite tang of oaky vanilla, and an upfront hop attack that develops scented orange and lime hints.
The hops remain on the finish with a rounded bitterness, along with tangy malt and sweetish fruit flavours. I doubt that this delightful beer could bring sorrow and pain to anyone — unless, of course, consumed to excess, which, given its moreish drinkability, is an understandable danger.