In the funny little world of beer-blogging, there’s a strange phenomenon that I’m just coming to grips with.  Before I explain, keep in mind the Aleheads site that you’ve been reading for the past couple of years has been, and still is, a completely free site.  There’s an ad here and there that you’ll see next to our posts but those aren’t generated by Aleheads, they’re generated by the hosting service that’s nice enough to let us take up space on the internet for practically zero cost (just some extras that we like to pay for).  Sure, I’ll take money if someone wants to pony up some cash, but we’re not looking to generate revenue.  Not sure why anyone would pay us anyway.  Have you read this site?  Anyway, being that this is a free site that answers to no one and has no controlling interest in anything, ever, I find it a little strange when our “Feedback” box is filled with various messages from companies asking either if we’ve tried their product and would be willing to review it or if we’d like to try a sample of something new.  I think that’s very cool and I love the trust that some people have in a bunch of folks that know just enough about beer to be mildly annoying at a bar, but I’m still learning to deal with the “notoriety” if you will.  Now, if this new-found notoriety brings free beer, then I say BRING IT ON!  And that’s how we’ve come to this review of Newcastle Summer Ale.

I feel it’s only polite to respond to free beer with a quick review.  After all, someone clearly went out of their way to pack up said free beer and ship it to a state that does not look kindly on those that send alcohol across its lines (Welcome to Massachusetts, land of the free and home of the taxed).  Also, this isn’t the first review I’ve done on Newcastle, having put up a post on their Brown Ale Draught Keg back when Aleheads was still in its infancy.  I like Newcastle Brown Ale.  Certainly not a great beer and way outside the scope of “Craft”, but it tastes good and I like it.  Nuff’ said.  I’m interested to see what Newcastle Summer Ale has in store.

As you can see, the Newcastle Summer Ale came to my home in a burnished, fibrous box.  This box was bound with translucent tape, stretching not only around the equator but spread evenly across any evident opening that may have been exposed to the elements.  A nice touch.  A subtle font was chosen for the coding of the address, swollen where needed and reduced when such ostentatious lettering would seem out of place.  Overall, a fine package indeed.

A quick swipe of the blade revealed the captive bounty.  What could it be?  Why, twas’ free beer.  Free beer, and a whole lotta bubble wrap.  When I arrived home earlier that day and shook the box on the doorstep, as anyone would when they find something on their stoop, I took notice of how “Airy” the box felt.  I also noticed a defined rattling.  Not always a good sign when expecting a shipment of beer.   My fears were quickly quelled not only when I felt a dry box on the exterior but also when I saw this glorious wrapping of bubbles.  I’ve shipped beer many times myself and my thought has always been to pack everything in so tightly that no beer would have a chance to move around.  If there’s nothing to bump into, I thought, then nothing could break.  The interior of the shipment in front of me was a little different.  A box that could have fit a twelve-pack, yet only a small orb lay in the middle with space a-plenty around each and every corner.  Nicely done.

And the reveal?  As expected, two 12 oz. bottles of Newcastle’s newest Summer Ale.  Also, not pictured, is a press release explaining just what it is that I’ve been sent.  Before I get into that, let me tell you this.  I find that the term “Summer Ale”, when used in the brewing industry, is an intentionally vague phrase used by the marketer to mask the contents of the bottle.  Could be anything in the bottle, any style really, but the consumer just has to assume that’s it’s  a lighter beer made to be enjoyed in the Summer months.  Sticking with that philosophy, the press release simply states the obvious – for “When it’s hot outside”.  Can’t really argue with that.  While it certainly doesn’t describe anything about what style the Newcastle Summer Ale fits into, they at least tell you what the intent of the beer is.  If it’s hot outside, drink it.  Vague, but honest.

Now, as we all know, Newcastle has taken on a recent commitment to no bollocks.  Seriously, no bollocks at all.  I’m assuming that’s pretty bad-ass.  Just look at the Newcastle Summer Ale label pictured on the left.  You’ve got muted colors, a star, some form of clear liquid hidden behind the scene – No bollocks, just Summer beer for when it’s hot outside.  At least that’s what they tell me.  Well, let’s pop one of these babies open and see for ourselves just what Newcastle has gotten into for the Summer season.  After all, it is hot outside, and they tell me that this beer should fit the bill.

So here’s the tasting note.  If you are a gentleman or fine lady who enjoys a crisp Heineken Light on a warm Summer’s eve, then you will, without a doubt, enjoy the hell out of Newcastle Summer Ale.  This is your beer my friend.  I want you to take that 12-pack of Heineken Light out of your cart, march right up to the besmocked shopkeep, and you tell him – “Good sir, exchange my package for some delicious Newcastle Summer Ale, for my thirst for Heineken Light is no more!”  The shopkeep will understand, as the Newcastle Summer Ale will be around for a limited time only.  Heineken Light is forever, man.

And a kind thank you to the fine marketing team that was nice enough to send me free beer.  If you need me, I’ll be enjoying a tall glass of Green Flash Palate Wrecker as that’s more my speed.  It’s not free, but sometimes you get what you pay for.


  1. @Czar – 1000 Rubles, wherever crates and/or barrels are sold.

    @Steve – Here’s a note from the press release: “The beer is brewed in partnership with the historic Caledonian Brewery”. Now, their website says the beers were “Concocted” at the old Edinburgh brewery but your guess is as good as mine as to where they’re actually brewed. The beer itself was sent solely to the US market though.

    EDIT: – Alas, I checked the bottle in the bin and it was in fact brewed in the UK. And Steve – I dig your site. You’ve driven me to a sudden craving for Scotch, and cheese, and well, more beer too. Cheers.

    1. As far as I know, they brew the export Newcastle beers up the road here in Edinburgh at the Caley, and the regular Newcastle Brown at the John Smith’s plant in Tadcaster. So, unfortunately, there’s nothing Geordie about it at all these days. One big happy family under Heineken…

  2. Taping the edges was more likely to keep any liquid in, no leakage, fyi. Some companies, i.e. UPS will treat a leaking package as if its hazardous and sent out a hazmat crew if there is any question as to what might be in the package. Also hassles for the shipper if liquid, wine, beer, etc… breaks, leaks and they did not pay the extra to say, hey there is liquid in this container, fyi.

    Regardless, still cool to get free beer, w/ bubbles included.

    Granted I would have tried it, after chilling it, but give me their dark brew (hoppy taste, not chocolate or coffee) over any lighter/pale ales any day. Now I need to bid you adieu and look up bollocks.

  3. I discovered that they’re going to trial that and I think it’s the winter ale over here in tesco over the summer… Newcastle Brown is horrendous in my opinion but I’ll give them a shot. What’s the worst that can happen?

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