Bishops Finger – on Fridays brewed

Bishops Finger – third beer from the big three from Shepherd Neame Brewery.


Earlier, I described two ales, as a core production of Shepherd Neame Brewery: Spitfire and Master Brew.
There is a third beer make up the base- Bishops Finger.

Quite unusual is the name of this beer. What ale has to do with the bishop’s finger? Does this name mean anything at all? Well, yes.
To explain this I will start today’s post with a short history lesson.

The murder of Thomas Becket

Thomas Becket (1118-1170) was Archbishop of Canterbury (1162-1170), Chancellor of England, he is a martyr and a saint of the Catholic Church.

He was a friend of King Henry II, who hoped to gain a greater impact on the Church appointed Becket Archbishop of Canterbury. But there was no consent between them.

When King Henry announced laws to limit the impact of the Church, Thomas Becket objected to them, for which he was sentenced to exile.

Thanks to the intercession of the Pope the parties entered into a compromise and Beckett returned to England.

Soon, due to another conflict, the Archbishop again found himself in exile.
He returned to England in 1170 years, however, continue acting against the will of the King.

King Henry II made no secret of his will get rid of the archbishop.
On 29 December 1170 four knights, hoping for a royal reward, chopped with swords archbishop at the altar of the cathedral in Canterbury.

Pope imposed on the king excommunication, and Beckett canonized in 1173 years.

The shrine of the saint and his relics were destroyed on the orders of King Henry VIII (today in this site in the cathedral is lit candle).

St. Thomas Becket is next to St. George’s second patron saint of England; he is also the patron of priests.

In the cathedral in 1986 installed monument dedicated to the memory of Thomas Becket.



Thomas Becket's monument

All right, but what does all this have to do with beer? Let me explain.

After the death and canonization of Thomas Becket, the faithful of the Church began en masse to visit his grave held pilgrimage to Canterbury.
Pilgrims walked on so-called Pilgrims‘ Way marked densely by pilgrimage route signs.
These signposts, because of its shape, commonly called bishops fingers.

Well, that’s it.
Shepherd Neame brewery giving name their beer refers to the story.

At the same time on graphically refreshed beer label we have the outline of such a signpost. Crosier from front label moved to neck label and is also on the cap.


Bishops Finger compare labels


Bishops Finger beer has been produced for the first time in 1958.
It was the first English strong ale brewed after World War II by Shepherd Neame Brewery, after a period when the malt ceased to be rationed.

You should know that since the Second World War in the UK applied restrictions on access to malt, due to the lack of grain. Therefore, brewers were forced to reduce the strength of their beers and this situation lasted until the late 50s of the twentieth century.

The Bishops Finger Charter


Described today ale can boast of owning its production standards written as: The Bishops Finger Charter (photo on the right comes from Shepherd Neame website)

It states that beer can be brewed only in the brewery in Faversham, Kent.

Its strength is defined on 5.4% ABV and can be described as Kentish Strong Ale.

For its production must be use water from an artesian well in Kentish Greensand, winter barley malt and hops East Kent Goldings – all local ingredients.
The fulfillment of this condition allows to keep awarded PGI (protected geographical indication).

PGI logo


And finally, to maintain the highest standards of ale must be brewed only on Fridays by the Head Brewer and that it must be tasted on a weekly basis by a member of the Board of Directors.





Today’s post become more and more extensive, but before I proceed to review beer, I have to necessarily mention about billboard advertising campaigns of Bishops Finger, which were a little cheeky and a little frivolous.

The first, shorter series, you can call stained glass campaign.


Cheeky ad campaign for Bishops Finger 1
Cheeky ad campaign for Bishops Finger 2
Cheeky ad campaign for Bishops Finger 3


And the second series like card from an old book.
Beautiful photos and atmosphere of the village, roadside inns, frivolous women


Bishops Finger campaign 1
Bishops Finger campaign 2
Bishops Finger campaign 4
Bishops Finger campaign 3
Bishops Finger campaign 5
Bishops Finger campaign 6


And finally came the moment that I begin for opening my bottle of Bishop – time to see this already historic liquor.


Name: BISHOPS FINGER (ESB [English Strong Bitter] / Premium Bitter, 5,4% ABV)
Brewery: Shepherd Neame Ltd. (Faversham, Kent, England)

Expiration date: 10/2016

Bishops Finger from Shepherd Neame
Bishops Finger labels & cap


test-look-small The colour of dark amber, copper, chestnut.
High light beige head, fairly quickly falling – remains in the form of low layer build-up glass.
test-sniff-small Aroma is malt, caramel, toffee, dried fruits.
test-drink-small In the taste we have malt, caramel (current light caramel sweetness from roasted malt)
further notes of bread and delicate notes of dried fruit.
Bitterness is medium, aftertaste is clearly bitter, slightly lingering.
Carbonation average to the low.


Bishops Finger it’s a good dry bitter ale.
The beer is medium-bodied. It has rather little components when it comes to taste, but generally is pretty good.
It’s definitely the best of beers which I previously described from Shepherd Neame.



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