Sainsbury’s Great British Beer Hunt 2012

The finalists are through to boot camp and it’s now down to the discerning public to vote with their mouths.  I was contacted by Rachael (@rreveritt) from Food & Drink PR company ‘This is Phipps’ and received a selection of beer to try and to blog my thoughts.

Wojtek, 5.5%abv, Beartown Brewery (North England)

Pours a golden orange colour, forms a tight one finger head, great sweet/bready/tropical fruit aroma.  Medium bodied and lightly carbonated.  I’m assuming Wojtek is a golden ale, although it is much like a lager.  It’s a sweet beer, the fruity hops do come through, but the hops are mainly about the bitterness.  Not a bad beer at all, one that would go nicely with some salty snacks.

99 Red Baboons, 4.2%abv, Blue Monkey Brewing Ltd (region: The Midlands)

This was the only beer I specifically requested.  I have wanted to try some Blue Monkey beer for a while and have heard good things about this one.  Great label and the information on the bottle describes the beer as “a dark and interesting ale…is it a sort of porter or maybe a mild? you decide”.  Pours dark with a red hue, looks like a glass of coke.  No head forms, the aroma is great, with sweet, boozy dark fruits, which follow on into the flavour, but didn’t live up to the promise.  Its light body and zero carbonation can’t live with the bitterness and was rather unbalanced.  I’d like to try this again and hopefully on cask too.  Judging from what others have said I think this may have been a bad bottle.

Horizon, Golden Ale, 4.0% abv, Wadworth Brewery (South West)

This comes in a clear glass bottle.  It is a pale yellow/golden colour.  It forms a one finger head and is highly carbonated.  The aroma is dominated by lime and gives way to some biscuit malt.  The body is light and very gassy, it’s sweet and then very bitter, quite metallic.  It finishes with mouth-puckering dryness.  Not great in my opinion.

Ridgeway Bad Elf, 4.5%, Winter Ale, Cotswold Brewing Co (region: South East)

Described on the bottle as a bottle conditioned “festive amber ale” and with “3 pounds of fresh hops added to every barrel” I thought things were looking good.  It pours a light orange/copper colour, one finger head which doesn’t last.  It has a piney / spruce tree aroma, which really reminded me of the Williams Bros Alba ale.  This could just be me, but I didn’t think it tasted of much and even the bitterness was subtle.  I guess you could say it was balanced i.e. little flavour / little bitterness, but I didn’t enjoy it.

Delta V, 6.5% abv, Stringers Brewery

This final beer was a nice surprise, mainly because I’ve had the beer before, passed to me from Stringers via Baron Orm, but also because the beer doesn’t seem to feature on the GBBH Finals list?  Anyway, waste not want not.  Described as a bottle conditioned, lightly filtered “bright gold, fragrant, strong beer”, made with a combination of six US/Euro hop varieties, using whole flower hops.  It pours a golden/light orange colour, very lively and the three finger head stopped me getting the whole bottle poured in one go.  The hop aromas are lovely and complex despite the head, and you really get the fresh smell you find when you open a new bag of hops.  The mouthfeel is full and creamy and the hops keep every mouthful interesting.  It has fresh cut grass, lemon pith, herbal, dank flavours.  The 6.5% abv is well hidden and the bitterness not overpowering.  V for Victory.

So there we have it, my mini GBBH.  Thanks to Rachael at ‘This is Phipps’, and I’ll show willing and go and buy a selection from local Sainsbury’s too.  Cheers!

The 20 beers on sale this autumn are:

  • Double Espresso Premio Caffè Birra from Traditional Scottish Ales (region: Scotland)
  • Prodigal Sun from Williams Bros Brewing Co. (region: Scotland)
  • White Lady from Cairngorm Brewery (region: Scotland)
  • Wild Hop Gold from Harviestoun Brewery (region: Scotland)
  • Pumphouse Pale Ale from Sambrooks (region: South East)
  • Poppy Ale from Wolf Brewery Ltd (region: South East)
  • Bad Elf from Cotswold Brewing Co for Beer Counter Ltd (region: South East)
  • Lemon Head from Nethergate Brewery (region South East)
  • Snowy from Cotleigh Brewering (region: South West)
  • Willy Nilly from S A Brain (region: South West)
  • Horizon from Wadworth Brewery (South West)
  • Dorothy Goodbody’s Blissful Brown Ale from Wye Valley Brewery (South West)
  • Batemans Mocha from Batemans (North England)
  • Manchester Star Ale from JW Lees (North England)
  • Scarborough Fair IPA from Wold Top Brewery (North England)
  • Wojtek from Beartown Brewery (North England)
  • Screech Owl from Castle Rock (region: The Midlands)
  • Indian Summer from Elgood & Sons Ltd (region: The Midlands)
  • 99 Red Baboons from Blue Monkey Brewing Ltd (region: The Midlands)
  • Ivanhoe from Ridgeway Brewing Co. (region: The Midlands)

9 thoughts on “Sainsbury’s Great British Beer Hunt 2012

  1. Not seen the Stringers one, looks and sounds good though

    The bad elf series is interesting there’s a couple of decent ones in there but the standard isn’t great IIRC they go all the way up to 12%

  2. I saw the Bad Elf on the shelf but didn’t buy it cos I assumed that as it was an xmas beer it wasn’t part of the competition and some doombrain employee had just dumped it there… I guess it’s me who is the doombrain. But I have had a few from the Elf series and never been too enamoured by them.

    If I was a more cynical man I’d say someone at Ridgeway (or Cotswold) have something to do with someone high up at JS cos Bad Elf is a Ridgeway beer (although brewed on Cotswold equipment), which means Ridgeway has 2 beers (in different regions) in this year’s final.

  3. I think you should unbold the grim Horizon Golden Ale. If this wins it’ll be a traversty and be typical of much of the supermarket swill.

    Although we have to be supportive of Sainsbury’s for putting on this show the placement of the beers and minimal adverstising is a little sad. How much effort would it have taken, for example, to update their glossy .com URL to reflect what’s happenning this year?

    Highlights are few and far between, especially in the pale selection, which is quite average. Strong candidates then are Wild Hop, Pumphorn and, depsite it having not an earthly chance of winning, the Double Espresso.

    Shame about the Stringers (they do some great stuff up there in Ulverston!) but I guess they may have had issues with supply. And Sainsbury’s is just too big for a decent brewery like Stringers! Cheers!

  4. Glad you liked the Delta V. We only put this forward for the regional part of the Sainsbo’s GBBH (this is a new element of the comp – I guess designed to encourage the smaller producer), we couldn’t commit to the volumes for the national comp. They’re a pretty humongous organisation and you can imagine how this kind of activity doesn’t naturally fit in with what they do. Well done them for working at it – I expect they’ll be relieved to get a single, national product out at the end (ideally from a sizeable producer) which they’ll be able to work with on the kind of footing they’re best at.

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