Sainsbury's Great British Beer Hunt 2012

Submitted by DM on Mon, 04/06/2012 - 20:36

   A few weeks ago Mrs DM got a sniff of a beer promo event locally, organised by Sainsbury's for people with Nectar Cards. You go along, taste some beer & vote which ones go through to the next round. Its not quite the GBBF, but its a bit of fun isn't it?

   Curiously I can't find any promotional material on the Sainsbury's website, but this is basically how it works;

1. Regional voting centres in Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh & London hold tastings.

2. 5 beers will be named regional winners - which means they are stocked by selected regional Sainsbury's for 6 months from August.

3. The 4 beers to get the most votes from the 5 regional tastings - 20 beers in total - get on the shelves of selected Sainsbury's nationwide in September.

4. The top selling 2 beers from the stores will be judged in October with the winner getting a 6 month nationwide Sainbury's listing.

   The event in Manchester is held at the new Eccles Stadium on Saturday the 12th May 2012 & I've got a ticket!

   I arrived at the impressive newly built stadium and was directed up two floors to the tasting room. Here, I was greeted by the very friendly host in a large conference room with tables & chairs arranged to sit around 10 to a table. The host chatted to me about what I had to do: pick 8 beers from the selection of bottles on the table along the side of the room to taste. There were around 18-20 beers in bottles from all over the North of England, most from familiar breweries but most beers were new to me.

   My selection process was as follows (in this order more or less);

1. Pick the beer called Chinook - I love Chinook hops, so a beer called this surely must have plenty in.

2. Look for something that looks a little out of the ordinary.

3. Discard amatuerish bottle labels - usually a sign of poor quality beer.

4. Discard Cropton beers - I've never tried one that was better than ordinary.

5. Pick the Stringers beer - they are an exciting new Cumbrian brewery, who seem to brew no wrong.

6. Pick at least two IPAs & two stouts to judge side by side as supermarkets already have enough copper coloured English bitters on their shelves.

   Although I picked 8 beers, shortly after I started tasting, friends Helen & Nik showed up & selected their 8 beers each. We started sharing & these are the ones I got to try;

Two Roses, Chinook - grapefruit explosion! Wow! Good lingering bitterness.

Beartown, Wojtek - massively hoppy & dry, fruity, earthy. Strange but rather good.

Stringers, Delta V - citrus hoppy, full bodied pale ale. Super. Marco Pierre White, Lager - like lager shandy. Pleasant enough, but ordinary beer.

Little Valley, Moor Ale - malt sweet, moderate beech smoke flavour. Nutty. Lots going on here. Rather good.

Batemans, Mocha - massively coffee-choc! Too much. Would have trouble with a bottle or pint.

Little Valley, Stoodley Stout - smooth silky stout, good roasted flavour. Not too heavy.

Thwaites, Hop Tipper - massively hoppy citrus aroma. Almost as big taste. Great stuff. Easily Thwaites most unconventional beer.

Two Roses, Barnsley Pride - malt, nutty, mostly ordinary beer. Didn't go down well with Helen.

Little Valley, Python IPA - caramel chewy, a little diacetyl, hoppy but not really IPA style. Nice enough.

J W Lees, Manchester Star Ale - damson, raisin, fruity. Sweet beer with a big body.

Cropton, Blackout - artificial vanilla aroma. A bit cloying. S'alright.

Cropton, Monkman's Slaughter - treacley malty beer. Full malt body. Nice enough.

Little Valley, Tod's Blonde - big vanilla aroma. Sweetish like a Belgian Blonde ale. Unfortunately has a sulphury aftertaste.

Wold Top, Scarborough Fair IPA - hoppy but restrained. Easy drinking session blonde ale. Could sink several of these.

Weetwood, Eastgate Ale - very hoppy pale ale. Another easy drinking, refreshing beer.

   The beers I voted through were; 1. Two Roses, Chinook. By far & away the best beer I tried during the day. 2. Beartown, Wojtek. An interesting beer. 3. Stringers, Delta V. A great beer, but not as good as their superb IPA or Dry Stout. 4. Little Valley, Moor Ale.

   Best of the rest beer. Wold Top Scarborough Fair IPA would have gotten voted through instead of Little Valley Moor Ale if I'd have selected it as it was so quaffable. Weetwood, Eastgate Ale proved that amateurish labels don't always indicate amateurish beer. My reservations against Cropton proved correct again. A great afternoon out & I really hope I'm invited again next year. Thank you Sainsbury's.

Update 04/06/12

Results from Regionals;

From the Scotland Beer Hunt

Double Espresso Premio Caffe Birra, Traditional Scottish Ales
Prodigal Sun, Williams Bros Brewing Co
White Lady, Cairngorm Brewery
Wild Hop Gold, Harviestoun Brewery

From the South East Beer Hunt

Atom Splitter, Wolf Brewery
Poppy Ale, Wolf Brewery
Bad Elf, Ridgeway Brewery
Lemon Head, Nethergate Brewery

From the South West Beer Hunt

Horizon, Wadworth Brewery
Posh IPA, Yeovil Ales
Snowy, Cotleigh Brewery
Willy Nilly, S A Brain

From the North of England Beer Hunt

Batemans Mocha, Batemans
Manchester Star Ale, JW Lees
Scarborough Fair IPA, Wold Top Brewery
Wojtek, Beartown Brewery

From the Midlands Beer Hunt

Screech Owl, Castle Rock
Indian Summer, Elgood and Sons
99 Red Baboons, Blue Monkey Brewing Co
Ivanhoe, Ridgeway Brewing Co

These beers will go into stores for the Drinks Festival from 12th September, when all of them will be available together for the first time and you can check out the beers that customers at the other Regional Beer Hunts have chosen for the nation!

The winners of Regional listings are:

Delta V, Stringers Beer
Silver Dollar, Tyne Bank Brewery
Prairie Gold, Wolf Brewery
U.P.A (Untapped Pale Ale), Untapped Brewing Co.
Amnesia, Bird’s Brewery

Looking forward to trying a couple of them now.

I had the Wojtek many months ago in a 'spoons (cask) and found it pretty good, but a little heavy. Maybe it improves somewhat in the bottle, and I'll keep my eyes open for it.
Nice to see a celebrity endorsing a mediocre product for cash.

Also had a few Weetwood's too. In my experience, pretty ordinary beer. Nothing I'd want to go out of my way for - hope they've turned a corner here.