Saturday, March 5, 2011

Daleside Brewery Morocco Ale

Clare and I were checking out a new beer store in Silver Spring when I came across a beer called "Morocco Ale."  My first thought was that the beer could not actually be from Morocco.  I did not think there could be any craft brewers in a country where the predominant majority of citizens are Muslim, a faith that prohibits the consumption of alcohol. 

In fact, Morocco is England, or, more specifically, south Cumbria, where there is Levens Hall.  Originally, it was a medieval tower built by the de Redman family of the Yealand Redmayne.  In the late 1500s, the Bellingham family acquired the land and built a large residence, which incorporated the medieval tower.  About one hundred years later, Colonel James Grahme of Levens acquired the property and the residence, which became known as Levens Hall. 

So what is the connection between Levens Hall and a beer called Morocco Ale?  The recipe is believed to have originated around the time that Colonel Grahme of Levens was a courtier in the Court of King James II.  According to legend, Grahme called the beer "Morocco" because of the Moors who visited the court when Catherine Braganza married Charles II.  Part of Catherine's dowry included the city of Tangiers, which is located in present-day Morocco.  The legend behind this beer continues ... during the English Civil War, someone buried the recipe in the gardens of Levens Hall, near some evergreen trees.  It was eventually recovered and used to brew beer for special occasions. 

Today, the beer is brewed by Daleside Brewery for Levens Hall. Despite the history of the recipe, this beer is not an Old Ale.  Instead, I think it is better described as an English Brown Ale.  The beer pours a very dark brown, with an off-white foam.  The nose of the beer is not very hoppy, but more malty and sweet in character.  The malt also provides the predominant flavor of the beer, accompanied by sweeter flavors of caramel and, to a lesser degree, toffee.  The ABV of this beer is 5.5%

The flavors of this beer are milder than some other English Brown Ales that I have tried.  I think that, based upon the flavors in the beer, the Morocco Ale can be paired with hamburgers, stews or chili.  I also think this ale could be paired with roast beef and mashed potatoes, which could make for a classic British meal.  I'm sure that there are other pairings that could work well with this beer.  

Overall, this is a good beer.  It is available for $4.99 a bottle at Fenwick Beer and Wine in Silver Spring.


For more about Levens Hall, check out its website.  

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