Lovely bubbly beer


Mersea Island in Essex is noted for wild birds, oysters and caravans. From today it will also be associated with a unique product: Champale. An alcoholic drink, made from malted barley, its effervescence comes from the lively yeast used in its fermentation. Roger Barber, who brews it, puts it in stout bottles with wired corks. At 10.5 per cent alcohol it is very strong for ale. It was the name, though, that attracted the ire of champagne producers in France, who thought it sounded too much like their own dear wine. But Mr Barber, who has been maturing a batch of 2,000 bottles, won the legal tussle, and fizzy-ale corks popped in celebration of his happy day. On sale at £16, Champale is cheaper than very good champers and steep for a bottle of ale. Still, as they say in Mersea, chacun à son brew.

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