Sunday 8 April 2012

Learn from the masters

The recent Tesco 4 for £6 offer has led me to buy more bottles of White Shield than I would normally do. This is a classic beer and one for which, despite recent travails and brewery moves, I still have a lingering affection. It still always seems a touch sweet, though, when I remember it from its glory days of the 1980s as a distinctively, even aggressively, dry beer.

Of four recent samples, one has been a bit flabby, but the other three have demonstrated real evidence of having conditioned in the bottle – dense spires of carbonation rising to create a huge, rocky head. That is what you want in a bottle-conditioned beer. And the yeast stays firmly stuck to the bottom, so it’s easy to pour it clear.

It may seem obvious, but “bottle-conditioned” means a beer that actually conditions (i.e. ferments) in the bottle. Hence it is well carbonated and forms a dense head. This can be seen in classic Belgian beers such as Duvel and Chimay.

Far too often nowadays, a “bottle-conditioned” label from a British micro-brewery results in a bottle of flat, cloudy liquid that somehow aspires to be like a pub pint of “real ale”, but ends up like the kind of pint you immediately return to the bar. The makers of such rubbish need to bone up on what bottle-conditioning really means, and how to do it.


  1. £6 for 4 White Shield!! FFS Supermarkets! Our prices have just risen over £4 for a SINGLE bottle of the stuff cos our suppliers keep hiking their costs... we'll never sell anymore of those then!

  2. It's now 4 for £5.50 in the latest offer, which also includes Old Crafty Hen which normally retails at £2.79. I think the undiscounted price for White Shield is £2.25, so maybe you should go down to Tesco and load up rather than using your usual supplier :p

  3. Must nip along to Tesco's tomorrow and pick some up!

  4. Oh my dear of only a few bloggers who gladdens my weary soul,whats this all about,
    4 bottles of windy juice from Tescos and then what ,"live" cricket on telly
    Tis time methinks for a little chat in some (quiet Robbys pub)***
    rather one free of the froth sniffing fraternity,cheap if possible.
    *** Should'nt be difficult

    U NO U

  5. None on sale at our nearest Tesco's in Pembury! Will have to try one of their larger stores.

  6. We have a terrifyingly huge Tesco Extra(neous) here in Sheff, and there's no low gravity beers and crucially, no White Shield either. You have to pay Sainsbury's prices and there aint always offers on.

    You must be really spoilt in that there where you are if you can buy the fabulous Shield so easily and for so little...

  7. Sainsbury's usually price match Tesco's. I got many bottles of Russian Standard vodka for the pub this way, before Christmas. (I don't shop in Tesco's)


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