Saturday, 10 May 2014

Soup action

Earlier this year, Wetherspoon’s introduced a range of three canned American craft beers from the Sixpoint Brewery. The initial pricing was £2.89 per can (or £2.50 for two) which I thought was a bit offputting. But, on my most recent visit, the price had been cut to £1.99, so I thought I would give one a go.

Perhaps perversely, I went for the Sweet Action which, according to various reviews I’ve read, is the least impressive of the three. However, I wanted to try something different, whereas the Crisp and Bengali Tiger are both in recognisable styles. Spoons provide you with a nice stemmed tulip-shape glass to drink it out of.

I was taken aback, though, to find it was not just hazy, but totally opaque. You really don’t expect that from a canned beer. It tasted OK, to be honest, in a characteristic American “hoppy but with good malt underpinning” way, although perhaps a bit muddy. But maybe it would be a good idea to let customers know that the beer was, say, “naturally hazy”. There are in-depth reviews of all three here – I thought the Sweet Action was more hoppy and less creamy than the reviewer. Perhaps I should complain that I was never sent a three-pack for review.

Next time I’m in Spoons I may try the other two. From reading web reviews the Crisp should be crystal clear while the Bengali Tiger might have a slight protein haze. They all come across, though, as the kind of thing you would try once but probably wouldn’t make a regular tipple. You also have to wonder whether the price cut means they aren’t selling well. Might we see them appearing on the shelves of Home Bargains?

9 comments:

  1. Maybe they're not sellin' maybe they're experimenting with price points. Be nice to see them in Home Bargains, though.

    I thought them nice but poor value. Spoons had better lagers on & an actual weissbier cheaper. The cask is also better value than the canned IPA though I thought the bengali really good and the best of the bunch.

    Canned beer is very much an off trade product, though. Maybe not the thing for a mainstream pub. More something for mugs, outside the mainstream, at £8 a pop. Or in slabs for buttons for the likes of me.

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  2. I can see how cans of Tesco value lager might appeal to some of Spoons early doors customers, but expecting punters to take up a canned version of an already niche product is perhaps a step too far. Experimenting with a price point? Usually done the other way round by way of intro promotions.

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  3. Martin, Cambridge11 May 2014 at 00:26

    I've tried them with meals and thought they were really tasty beers @ £5 for 2. The Bengali Tiger has been on cask occasionally and even better and cheaper. I'm not surprised if sales a bit low, cans aren't viewed well yet, but I guess they'll last a while in those fridges.

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  4. I'm entirely in favour of cans taking over the quality packaged beer market, and also of this Spoons initiative. I was just gobsmacked to get a can of cloudy beer and think I should have been warned. I don't think I've ever had a cloudy can before.

    I don't like multibuy drink offers in pubs as they discriminate against the lone drinker. They are also illegal in Scotland. IMV a flat £2.49 price would have been better.

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  5. Judging by the huge displays of the cans in all the Spoons I've recently been in, I would guess they're massively overstocked than suffering poor sales.

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  6. Id have been inclined to say if it had just came straight out the fridge that it was just a chill haze because the fridge was too cold, but I dont know if the cans are "bottle conditioned" that way to have caused that, I dont recall it being cloudy when I tried it.

    but Wetherspoons do charge different amounts for quite a lot of their stuff thats quite normal, they arent as identikit as people think, so it maybe part of the promotion budget or just specific to some locations where the price changes.but Ive still yet to see anyone else try one in any Wetherspoons Ive been in.

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  7. The cunning plan might be to see which of the 3 craft cans prove popular then introduce that as a draught (awesome draft) craft keg beer.

    Cans are not accepted by a mainstream on trade customer, so it may be the can aspect that is dropped.

    If priced well, they will offer a consistency off offer lacking in the cask.

    Of other interest there was little comment regarding spoons adopting a 3rd regular cask beer in London Pride. Priced above Ruddles, the guests or Abbot. This also appears to be quietly getting dropped rather than priced in line with the other casks.

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  8. In general, I've been impressed with canned beer from small post-modern American breweries. It seems to work just fine, and the benefits for shipping overseas and packing in checked airline luggage are obvious.

    The downside, as I've learnt though, is that bottle-conditioning isn't feasible, which means you're limited to brewery-conditioned beer. If I ever run into these in a Spoons, I guess I'd try them, unless the Pride happens to be drinking well that day.

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  9. I tried the Bengali Tiger and that was pretty cloudy too, although it did have that classic US craft beer taste.

    I'm told they have been reordered by Spoons so obviously the experiment hasn't been a total disaster.

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