Saturday 22 January 2011

A taste of the West, and the East

I’ve expressed my liking before for Butcombe Bitter, a beer that for me is always associated with being on holiday in the West Country. It’s a distinctive bittersweet copper-coloured beer with a strong hop character and a kind of earthy, rustic note. Apparently it was the biggest selling draught beer brand in the UK not available in bottle, but that has now been rectified. (The speling misstakes in the hedding are quite amuseing) I picked up a bottle from Morrison’s the other day. It’s stronger than the cask, at 4.5% ABV rather than 4.0%, but otherwise seems to have much the same character. This will definitely be a repeat purchase.

Another interesting bottled beer I picked up in Morrison’s was “Sun Lik Chinese Beer”, at a bargain £1 for 500ml of 5.0% ABV. This has a deliberately naïve-looking label that suggests a genuine Chinese import, but on closer inspection it turns out to be brewed under licence by Shepherd Neame in Faversham. With rice as a declared ingredient, it’s an inoffensive, sweetish but surprisingly full-bodied lager that would be ideal for washing down Oriental food, but is never going to really challenge the tastebuds.


  1. I saw the butcombe the other day in my local morrisons but plumped for an everards bitter. Which incidentaly proved to be very tasty. I shall pick up a bottle of butcombe on my next visit. In my opinion there is only one beer for 'chinese' food and that's wells banana bread.

  2. It was funny as just before Morrisons started stocking it, it arrived as part of myBrewerytap's Winter 52 week beer club.

    I'd seen the SIBA article and was quite excited to see it so soon. Then the following day I popped into Morrisons and there it was!

    We've still not 'baron rated' it but I've a feeling that it's going to be nice.

  3. You can get cheaper adjunct lager than that fella. Look out for 3 boxes for £20 offers.

  4. But then I'd have to drink it all, Cookie!

  5. So many supermarket 'foreign' beers are nothing of the sort.

    In fact, finding a foreign brew in a supermarket is usually the first sign that it was brewed in the UK.

    That said, I do applaud 'popular' labels like Becks and Corona, who really are brewed where their branding implies. They are in the minority, where supermarkets are concerned.

    I'd rather drink beers that don't lie to me.

  6. "In fact, finding a foreign brew in a supermarket is usually the first sign that it was brewed in the UK."

    That might have been true twenty years ago, but certainly isn't today. My local Tesco has, just to name a few, Bitburger, Budweiser Budvar, Zywiec, Duvel, Chimay, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, all of which are genuine imports, and many more besides. Plus all Heineken sold in the UK is now imported from the Netherlands.

  7. I suspected you'd do that!

    Okay, so, humour me...

    Make a similar list of the beers sold in your local (or any average) Tesco which have foreign names or foreign branding, but which are NOT brewed where they 'imply.'

    I'll start you off...

    The very British selection of Stella Artois, Carlsberg, Fosters, Brahma, Kronenbourg 1664, and the enigmatic Grolsch - which is brewed in the UK if you buy it in boxes, but it's suddenly brewed where the label implies if you buy it individually with it's distinctive 'flip top' lids.

    There are, quite obviously, many more.

    When your new list is complete, you might then elect to reveal which beers, by volume, are in the huge minority - liars or truth-sayers.

    By the way, I secretly do take your point that things are gradually improving, but I don't yet think it's safe to stop moaning!

  8. Butcombe Bitter is truly horrible / not to my taste.*

    * Delete as required.

  9. And this week they'd run out of Butcombe at Morrisons in Hollinwood - obviously Tandleman has cleaned them out ;-)


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