Wednesday, 6 April 2011

The White Shield Conundrum*

It was a nice surprise that for my recent birthday I got a rather good selection of beer from various friends and family. A most welcome mixture of old favourites and new exotics. I look forward to drinking them and sharing them over the next few weeks. In the selection nestling next to chocolate porters from the states and best bitters from just down the road were some bottles of Worthington's White Shield.

Now let me say from the start I LOVE White shield and will happily say it’s one of the world’s great beers. I came to it a bit late and my views may be swayed by my first pint being in the brewery tap, but if at any time someone suggests a bottle I am more than happy. I love its dry complex balanced taste, its look and appearance, I love its history and the whole Burton home of brewing thing. I’ve met the team who make it and they are wonderful knowledgeable people, who should be more widely known/praised for their skill and for a word I rarely use genius. In short I like White shield I just wish it had a better label.

Now let’s be clear it’s not rotten like some we highlight here, it’s just undersells one of the world’s best beers. It's like a great lp in a rotten sleeve, a beautiful flower in a stained milk bottle, it's like picasso said "a great painting deserves a great frame, a poor one needs one".

It comes down for me to the lopsided "clip arty" shield it just looks sort of cheap and throw away. A beer like White Shield in part trades of its heritage and there’s nothing wrong with that especially if you helped preserve a whole style of beer and are linked back to its origins (even if by a circuitous route) and of course even famous brands like Guinness and Coke which appear to stay the same change subtly every few years.Quirky edgy labels are good for new beers that need to make their mark but they often don't wear well and WWS doesn't need to shout about its worth. I think something along the lines of the older style slightly ornate design could be in order perhaps with a larger less quirky shield but keeping the shield bottle caps they’re good. Anyway it’s been far too long since I had a bottle (all of 2 days) so keep up the great beer folks just tweak the label a touch.

*Robert Ludlum’s poorest ever selling title set in the beer offs of North Staffs...

12 comments:

  1. This post has made me want to rush out and re-rate it, well done on making it sound so appealing.

    That's a nice selection there although I'm not sure about the London Pride. Is that a Schehallion I see hiding in the shadows? Awesome beer...

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  2. I think what they've done to the shield-and-dagger is exactly what Diageo have done to the Guinness harp: simplified it and modernised it. I quite like the White Shield label as-is: it's understated and very very English. Far nicer than another wrapped-in-the-cross-of-St-George beer I could mention.

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  3. Baron Orm don't just rate it drink!! ; ) yes there's Schehallion in their (we'll have to agree differ on pride)
    beer Nut: thinking about it abit more the lopside shield just seems a little apologetic to me, as if they're not sure about using it. I can see the worth in not over doing the George cross/english thing as it can limit your audience.

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  4. Yeah, the shield could stand to be at least 50% more shield-y. But the overall design, with the text tucked away to the right, is all quite classy. "Iconic", one might say, if one were given to brainless marketing cliché.

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  5. The current White Shield presentation makes me think of operations, surgeons and, possibly, butchers or psychopathic serial killers.

    The white background shape reminds me of the kidney-shaped stainless steel dishes the medical profession uses, and the dagger looks horribly blood-stained.

    I like its simplicity and recognisability, but I think there's distinct room for improvement.

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  6. Don't worry I do 'just drink' in fact most weekend evenings are spent just drinking with maybe one or two ratings.

    I've just not been blown away by WWS yet (I gave it a 4/5) and so don't have any stock of it but I've heard that slightly aged ones are better than young bottles - I might buy a few next time I'm in Morrisons and try one a month or something to see if there's a sweet spot for me...

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  7. Got to disagree. Its difficult to display. Shield forward it is confusing to the un-initiated and text forward its, well, just a block of text. As for any nationalistic overtones, if they went with the old school label the red-cross-on-white-field motif is removed entirely.

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  8. Baron Orm: yes opinions vary as to which is the best vintage* but WWS definitely developes and changes over time so a periodic testing sounds like an excellent plan. *do we need a new word to describe the age of beers and not vins?

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  9. I like the label, like the beer nut says, its simplified and modern...

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  10. Ok a trip to Morrisons has resulted in two bottles of WWS falling into my baskets (damn beer aisle). They both have the same best before and batch number "21/09/12 264" - I'll drink one before the end of the weekend and one in ? months time.

    How many months do you think I should leave it?

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  11. Yeah I was thinking six months, that should be enough for the yeast to have finished doing it's thing shouldn't it?

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