by Roger Clapham.
Earlier this year, my friend Matt was enthusiastically telling me about Purity’s Pure Ubu (pronounced “oo-boo”). “Bloody great” he claimed. After some years of dedicated imbibing Matt knows his way round a drink or two, so I kept an eye out for it and soon hit paydirt when I discovered it on draught in the Dog & Duck in Soho. Dutifully I got stuck into a few pints and thoroughly enjoyed it – Matt was clearly right, it was a tremendous brew and I’ve been buying the bottled version ever since.
Ubu is one of a small range of beers produced by the Purity Brewing Company, a small independent brewery based on a farm in rural Warwickshire near Stratford-upon-Avon. They have been brewing their own beers (and importing others from Europe) since 2005, and are very much ploughing their own furrow with their distinctive output – they also produce two other fine ales, Mad Goose and Pure Gold – and modern attitude. Their approach includes a highly admirable on-site wetland scheme that cleans and filters the waste water from the brewery through a series of ponds, reeds, algae and other vegetation. They hope to turn this into a wildlife sanctuary eventually, and alongside other ideas such as feeding the farm animals their spent grain, the company shows a genuine commitment to the environment.
Pure Ubu is named after the brewery dog apparently, which you would guess is named after the dog in the “sit Ubu, sit!” clip that appeared at the end of every episode of US sitcoms Family Ties and Spin City – perhaps there’s some big Michael J. Fox fans at Purity, who knows. Regardless, it’s picked up a number of regional food & drink awards in the Midlands, as well as appearing in this years World’s Best 50 Beers list. It’s relatively easy to find in the Midlands, as well as in London and East Anglia, particularly in more upscale supermarkets or as a guest ale in some pubs (such as the Nicholson’s chain, as in the case of the Dog & Duck).
It has a smooth, malty, and slightly fruity taste, but it’s well balanced with some sweetness and is not overbearing. Amber-coloured, and with a steady 4.5% abv its quite suitable for a decent session, but most notable is that halfway through the pint an unexpected loveliness creeps up on you – describing any alcoholic drink as “moreish” seems somewhat pointless, but it really is the case here. American founding father (and the inventor of bifocal spectacles amongst other items) Benjamin Franklin is often quoted as claiming that “beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy”. He was actually referring to wine when he said this, however if he’d just had a couple of pints of Ubu those exact words might well have slipped from his lips. And besides all that, the bottle has a cartoon dog on it. Sold. Cheers…