Tuesday 29 March 2011

More beer watering

I was disappointed to learn that Batemans are to cut the strength of their flagship XXXB premium bitter from 4.8% ABV to 4.5%. A Batemans spokeswoman is reported as saying that pub operators were increasingly resistant to taking stronger beers. That is undoubtedly true, and you can’t really blame Batemans for taking that step. I’ve mentioned before how it’s becomingly increasingly rare to find cask beers above 4.5% outside specialist beer pubs. So often now you see a list of forthcoming guest beers in pubs that cluster thickly between 3.7% and 4.3%.

XXXB is (or was) a classic English strong bitter, robust, full-bodied and malty but at the same time dry and with a distinct hop character. Hopefully the bottled version will stay at 4.8% and add to the growing trend of bottled beers being stronger than their cask equivalents.


  1. Water it down, then raise the price, hoping nobody notices the difference. Much like making the food packaging smaller in the supermarket while raising the price and hoping nobody catches on. Been seeing a lot of it lately. They'd water down the petrol if they could get away with it.

  2. Well, there we have one more thing that bottled ales are doing better than their cask cousins!

    I suppose the supermarkets aren't clamouring for ABV reductions because they don't have to regularly encounter the results of strong beer consumption.

    Or is there more to it than that?

  3. I think the two cater to different markets - ales in the pub are typically consumed in "sessions", or where you want to retain a certain amount of mental clarity afterwards, whereas premium bottled ales are more typically consumed in ones or twos in front of the telly or PC.

  4. I hope they keep the higher strength in the bottles, XXXB is one of my go-to supermarket bitters if I want a classic hearty english bitter.

  5. I've never liked Batemans XXXB - with luck the weaker version may be more palatable.


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