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Sainsbury's Six to the rescue

Added: Friday, March 20th 2020


Here’s some good news on the beer front: if you’re struggling to get to the pub in these troubled times you can pick up some fine-tasting and innovative beers from Sainsbury’s.

Most supermarkets tend to concentrate on mainstream beers but Sainbury’s has launched six from small craft breweries that offer new and exciting flavours. The character of the beers is due to the use of a wide range of hops plus the addition of fascinating ingredients not usually found in beer.

I was especially impressed by the Dark Arts Hazelnut Stout (6 per cent) from Magic Rock brewery in Huddersfield. Hazelnuts are used in the brewing process and they add a bittersweet and roasted note to the beer that melds well with the chocolate and vanilla character imparted by dark malts. There’s a good underlying spicy and bitter note from the hops and the result is a complex and refreshing beer.

In the fast-changing world of modern brewing, Magic Rock, launched in 2011, is now owned by a giant global brewer. In 2019 it was bought by Lion of Australia that in turn is a subsidiary of the Japanese brewer Kirin.

Japanese brewers are active in this country: Asahi bought the London brewer Fuller’s last year. But from my experience, the Japanese interfere less than western brewers when they buy small independents and allow them freedom to continue to make excellent products.

Sputnik Pale Ale (5 per cent) is another beer from the north, in this case North Brewing Company in Leeds. While the hops are not listed, the ripe grapefruit, pineapple and peach flavours suggest they come from North America. Juicy and honeyed malt blend well with the hops that also impart a fresh pine note to the finished beer.

Shake Down Mango Vermont IPA (4.5 per cent) is brewed by the award-winning Tiny Rebel Brewery in South Wales. The beer is influenced by the American style New England IPA that is radically different to the intensely hoppy and bitter interpretations of IPA brewed on the West Coast. NEIPAs are better balanced, with more malt content and this version has the added attraction of mango flavouring. The finished result has fruity hops, juicy malt and rich fruit.

The North London Two Tribes Brewery chips in with its own IPA called Metroland (3.8 per cent). It’s called a Session IPA, another style that comes from the United States where brewers realise that not all drinkers want beers of 8 and 9 per cent that are so hoppy they make your eyeballs fry. This is a wonderfully quaffable beer using Amarillo and Simcoe hops that add a delicious note of citrus fruit to the malt and hops.

Fourpure in Bermondsey, South London, is another small independent that has been snapped up by Kirin of Japan. The new owners are clearly giving Fourpure freedom to innovate as Peach State Peach Sour (3.5 per cent) is modelled on the Belgian style of beers produced by “spontaneous fermentation” that allows wild yeasts in the atmosphere to turn malt sugars into alcohol. The result is a tart and refreshing beer, the acidity balanced by a ripe mango note from the addition of American peaches.

The final beer comes from the Yeastie Boys, an acclaimed duo in New Zealand, a country with a bountiful supply of creative craft brewers. Digital IPA (5.7 per cent) is hoppy and bitter but with a fine balance of honeyed malt and tropical fruit notes from local Kiwi hops. It’s delicious and quenching.

All the beers are in 330ml cans and prices range from £2.20 to £2.60. Well done, Sainsbury’s, for helping us beat the virus blues.