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Posted: 16 October 2012
Author: Stewart Tricker
What does Kentish Ale have in common with Exmoor Blue Cheese, Whitstable Oysters or Melton Mowbray Pork Pies?
Well apart from the fact that they all go together well to make a not quite traditional ploughman’s lunch there is a more significant relationship – all of these products have PGI status
So what is PGI?
It stands for Protected Geographic Indication and is a European Regulation that recognises the link between he product and the geographic area whose name it bears. In order to register a product as PGI there must be a clear link between the product and the area that gives it its’ name and is only applicable to agricultural products and foodstuffs produced from them.
In order to achieve PGI status the product range has to be submitted as a name that clearly identifies the region or specific place together with supporting documentation which includes a description, proof of origin and method of production.
There are then annual inspections by a body that is licensed to audit to the PGI standards and if successful the labels of the product are required to display the relevant PGI symbol. The product is then protected against anyone else using the same name for their products.
What does PGI for Kentish Ales and Strong Kentish Ales actually mean?
The beers are defined as fermented malt based alcoholic beverages with a unique strong aroma of hops and a balanced full bitter flavour, golden brown in colour with a light creamy head when poured. The alcohol content differentiates between Kentish Ales and Strong Kentish Ales.
They must be brewed in the county of Kent - Kentish breweries being in the midst of the hop gardens led to the hops being fresh and fragrant imparting the unique strong hop aroma and bitter characteristics to the “Kentish Ale”.
The flavours have always been balanced and enhanced by the use of brewing liquor extracted from the green sand layer below the chalk via the artesian well under the brewery, the high calcium levels from the chalk are essential and unique to this type of beer.
The production process has been defined to include selected locally grown varieties of hops, a portion of which are added towards the end of the boil to maintain a powerful hop aroma. The Kentish Ale strain of yeast is also stipulated as is the later addition of more Kentish hops to cask beers to reinforce the hop aroma.
So in essence PGI is a regulation that safeguards the unique elements of production of a wide range of agricultural and food products throughout the EU and for us ensures that Kentish Ales including Spitfire, Master Brew and 1698 will always maintain that truly Kentish aroma and taste that we all love.
Stewart Tricker - Senior Brewer