Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Buying bottled beer

Following the demise of BeerRitz  I gave some thought to buying quality bottled beer.

The Merseyside and West Cheshire region lacks a specialist beer shop which is surprising considering the size of the potential market. There are some excellent online beer sellers but delivery costs can make this method of purchase expensive. So what about our major supermarkets?

I did my usual shop to Tesco last Friday. It’s classed as a Tesco ‘Extra’ so it’s as big as they come. Perusing the shelves was a disappointment. Sticking to British beers only two bottle conditioned beers were on sale; Coniston Bluebird and Fuller’s Bengal Lancer. Widening the brief to ‘craft beers’ gave me Brewdog Punk IPA and 77 Lager plus two beers from Innis & Gunn and Morrisey Fox Blonde if you class that as a ‘craft’ product. Just about everything else was your typical mediocre ‘bitter in a bottle’ and was dominated by Greene King, Marston’s, Hall & Woodhouse and Fuller’s.

A trip to Sainsbury was slightly better but not by much. Meantime London Porter is good, Tom Woods Shropshire Lad, St. Peter’s Golden Ale and Purity Ubu are interesting without being outstanding. I know that Sainsbury stock Meantime’s bottle conditioned 75cl bottles in some branches but not in Wirral they don’t!

When you think of the excellent individually crafted beers that are produced in this country it’s a shame that they are so hard to find unless you are lucky enough to live close to the breweries or a dedicated beer shop.


  1. I tend to take the view that bottle-conditioning is a bit of a case of the Emperor's new clothes for lower-gravity beers, but obviously someone who is only really looking for BCAs won't find much of interest in the major supermarkets.

    (Having said that, Morrisons currently stock both Hopback Summer Lightning and Worthington White Shield).

    Just looking at Tesco's range, I would say, for example, that beers such as Fullers ESB, Black Sheep Best Bitter and Robinsons Unicorn Premium certainly are well worthy of consideration.

  2. I quite agree. I've drunk some dreadful RAIBs around the 4% mark. Bluebird is an exception.
    No chance of finding the stronger good stuff though. If only Tesco sold Jaipur for example.
    BTW I missed one in Sainsbury - Robinson's Old Tom.

  3. Thornbridge have just got a listing in Waitrose for a few of their beers so if there's one of them nearby then you'll be able to buy Jaipur!

    I only go to the supermarket if I need a specific beer or want a few bottles of Punk IPA. I rarely buy from there and get it all online instead.

  4. If you are ever over Ormskirk-way make sure you pop into Source Deli - they are expanding their beer range which includes Marble, Prospect, George Wright, Stringers, Hawkshead & Hardknott. They also stock some good Trapist & other world beers.

    There is also The Inn Beer Shop in Southport which had a large selection when I was in there last year.

    If you come over to Ormskirk please let me know, might be able to have a quick pint with you somewhere...