Return of the Basics

The sun’s been up and the weather’s been nice – a true miracle for our little island! It seems summer is finally here, and it only missed a few years. Let’s just not take in the gloomy weather reports in, let’s just stay optimistic.

But as the weather has been nice, we have opted to enjoy the sunshine in the garden with a few beers, and while we were at it, we decided to go back to basics and visit the Hoole Bargain Booze again. We have heard rumours the Tesco is town is also weighing in on the beer offers and we will check that out too at a later date.

It is good to see that the beer appreciation is spreading to more commercial routes as well. It’s no longer unheard of to choose a pint of ale instead of commercial lager, cider or a glass of wine in a pub. More and more watering holes are now offering at least a few hand-pulls as a standard, and the stores are following suit. It might be just a simple equation of demand and supply, but if anything it speaks volumes of the good gospel: ale is back in business, big time.

Whether you are part of the new generation of beer enthusiasts like myself, or an old school veteran like Tom, there seems to be something for everyone on offer no matter where you pop your head to. Surely some healthy competition can only be good, and it encourages more breweries to try their hand at something different. Well, we can always hope!

Found in Hoole Bargain Booze, 3 for £5 offer:

 Ginger Beard – Wytchwood Brewery 4.2%

We both are fans of ginger beer in general, and as such it’s been great to see more breweries try their hand at brewing some of recent. Most notable ones are Marble Brewery’s Ginger and Hardknott Brewery’s Cool Fusion, which remain our firm favourites. However, for the purposes of this exercise we have chosen a beer you can find in most local shops. Wytchwood Brewery continue on their mission to bring something a little different to the commercial beer scene and this particular beer is quite a handful. To start, you certainly get a waft of ginger in its aroma, and at first taste the spicy warmth of ginger really hits you. However, it has a slight fizz to it and this makes it lighter than traditional ginger ale, and gives it a refreshing edge. It has a sweet taste, but we think the added sweetness makes this beer a great first experience with ginger beer, it is something you could easily imagine having as your first, thirst-quenching drink on a hot summers day. It’s not over the top, it’s not outrageous, it’s not adventurous, but it’s steadily enjoyable for what it is.

UNICORN – Robinsons Brewery 4.3%

The first reason we were drawn to this one was that we have not come across it before. The second was that upon inspection, the bottle promises the beer to be “for people who know how to appreciate the best of Britain’s distinctive beers”. That’s us! This must be a beer for us! The UNICORN (it insists to be written in capitals) is a traditional golden bitter, something Tom would quite happily drink a few pints of but me, I’m not a fan. It’s not a bad beer, it’s just that my palate doesn’t appreciate traditional bitters. I find them uninteresting. But again, that is no criticism towards the beer itself, just the style. The UNICORN is a balanced bitter, there’s hops and malts working together amicably, but it’s nothing to write home about. It’s by no means unpleasant, it’s just a very generic bitter. People who appreciate bitter will appreciate the UNICORN for what it is.

Banana Bread Beer – Wells 5.2%

We both have had a soft spot for this beer for a very long time. There’s something appealing about the very idea of infusing an amber beer with a tangy fruit like a banana. This beer doesn’t overpower you with the fruit, though. It has a very gentle aroma of banana, and the overall fruitiness is very subtle. It carries the characteristics of banana bread; spices such as nutmeg and ginger, and fruit like raisins, but at the same time it’s hoppy. The hops suit the spiciness of the beer like a glove. Tom recons the beer has a feel of the British empire about it, what with all the exotic spices blended with a traditional golden ale. It is in fact a rather interesting beer, subtle in its variety and very well balanced. And, as luck would have it, it is readily available in most local shops and supermarkets.

This article is a second of its kind of a series where we aim to prove (or disprove) you can find decent beer in supermarkets or a corner shop. In this series we will explore your average local shopping unit as well as introduce you to local speciality shops where you can get more outrageous beer as well as the know-how behind them. These beers are not for rating, so we shant be giving them the usual marks from one to five we give the guest ales we try on our adventures, this is just an introduction to beers you can find on a shelf near you. Watch this space for tips and local knowledge of the variety of beers around you!

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