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Posted: 19 December 2013
Blog category: Beer
One of the oldest British ale brands, Bishops Finger Kentish Strong Ale has been re-designed by brewer Shepherd Neame with a new look that celebrates its Kentish heritage.
Originally brewed in 1958 as a celebratory ale after years of post-war austerity, 55 years on Bishops Finger remains a popular premium ale available nationwide.
Using a classic design in harmony with the brewery’s other heritage brands, the Classic Collection, Generation Ale and 1698, it will maintain the ecclesiastical purple, gold, black and white colour scheme, but with a stronger ‘premium bitter’ aesthetic.
A traditional Kentish Strong Ale, Bishops Finger takes its name from the Kentish nickname for an ancient finger-shaped signpost found only in Kent on the Pilgrims Way pointing to Canterbury and the shrine of Thomas A Becket, before it was destroyed by Henry VIII in the 16th century.
Brewed with chalk-filtered mineral water and Kentish hops, Bishops Finger’s EU Protected Geographical Indication guarantees the provenance of its ingredients and means it is the only beer in the world which can be called a Kentish Strong Ale.
Bishops Finger brand manager Kate Maclean said: “The rationale behind the new direction was to take the brand back to its heritage. The packaging now communicates both the story of the sign that led the way for the Pilgrims and the history of Bishops Finger as one of Britain’s oldest ale brands.
“The new design very much brings it in line with our Classic Collection range to emphasise our Heritage, having all the traits of a traditional and premium product.”
At 5.4% abv Bishops Finger is available in 500ml bottles nationwide in all major supermarkets and good independent retailers. The cask ale pump clip will also take the new branding in the New Year.
The birth of a Kentish legend
The tale of Bishops Finger has its origins in the privations suffered by the people of Kent following the Second World War.
Once the initial euphoria of the Allied victory had subsided, the 1940s and 1950s proved to be a frugal time as people struggled to rebuild their lives amid years of rationing and controls.
During the war, malt had been strictly rationed and the Government’s message to brewers was “quantity not quality”.
Rationing finally ended in the mid-1950s and in 1957 Shepherd Neame’s Head Brewer Gordon Ely was given the go-ahead by the Board of Directors to produce the Faversham Brewery’s first strong ale for nearly 20 years. The beer was to be a celebration following the grey post-war years of austerity.
The ale Gordon Ely brewed was introduced to free trade customers in a letter dated February 1958.