My name’s Graeme and I like beer.

This week I decided to move away from the multipacks and sample some of the own brand beer produced by supermarkets in Northern Ireland.

So this was my carry out of six different supermarket beers…

Beer (8)

And this was how they rated…

Beer (1)1. Sainsbury’s St Cervois

4.8% 25cl £4 for 8

Old Mr Sainsbury is fairly scant on detail with this beer – the fact it’s premium continental lager is all he’s telling you. But here’s the thing. It goes down a treat. Here’s to St Cervois – the patron saint of dumpy bottles of beer.

Beer (6)2. Sainsbury’s Kentish Ale

4.5% 500ml £1.25

They tell us this beer is produced by the UK’s oldest brewer Shepherd Neame. I’d love to know what age this particular shepherd is. It’s meant to be light, floral and fruity but I found this to be the heaviest, most malty beer of the night. By the end of the bottle I was surprised that I wanted more. A bit of a grower of an ale.

Beer (2)3. Tesco Premier Lager

4.8% 440ml £2.85 for 4

This underwhelming tin doesn’t prompt much anticipation, and the first sip doesn’t exhilarate, but persistence is rewarded. This was the cheapest beer in my carry out, but I’d never hold that against it. As an added bonus it weighed it at 4.8%, a whole 1% stronger than Carlsberg! As I made my way down the tin the taste became more palatable and by the end I’d been won over by this cheap and strong, if poorly decorated item.

Beer (3)4. Lidl’s Excelsior

3.8% 500ml 75p

My initial feeling was one of awe when I picked up this tin with a sword-wielding knight on it, bearing the name Excelsior. But just like the knight in his suit of armour, it proved to be a bit tinny. I wouldn’t be in a rush do joust with old Excelsior in a hurry.

Beer (5)5. Marks & Spencer’s Cambridge Golden Ale

4.2% 500 ml £2.19

I’d criticised Mr Sainsbury for being scant on detail, well the opposite complaint could be levelled at M&S – there’s talk of a blend of both English Challenger and American Mount Hood hops as well as East Anglian Maris Otter malt. It all sounds very complicated. When I’d finished reading the description I’d worked up a right thirst. Thankfully this flavoursome ale quenched it, and then some. Great stuff. And there’s a train on the label. What more could you want?

Beer (4)6. Marks & Spencer’s Jester IPA

5.2% 500ml £2.40

Another hoppy number from M&S and another that impresses with its distinctive flavour. This one’s brewed with Jester hops which is maybe why I was laughing when I was drinking it… or more likely it had something to do with the other 5 beers I’d had beforehand. I should point out that both M&S beers came with Union flag bottle tops so if you’ve flags issues I’m just giving you the heads up.

It was one in the morning before my review was finished. What I probably should have done was tasted them all, perhaps over a few nights, rather than down the whole lot in one evening.

Anyway, it wouldn’t be work if it was that easy – the result was a very merry night and a pounding hangover the next morning.

So to the winner. I’m going to go with Marks & Spencer’s Cambridge Golden Ale in first place with Sainsbury’s St Cervois as a very close runner up. The former makes for a great sipping beer for a quiet night in, while the latter makes for the perfect carry out in preparation for a big night out.



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