Currently Reviewed

96 draught beers from 57 breweries in 29 regions

and 43 bottled beers

Bottled Beers

I recognise that these days, many brewers of cask conditioned brews also produce bottled versions of their beers, and though rarely comparable to their cask equivalents, some of these have their own attributes.

The flavours of these, can at times be 'similar' to their draught counterparts, and are often worth trying, if only to give an idea of what to expect when you experience the draught ale. In addition, many of these bottled beers have their own individual appeal.

Watch the spaces below. I'll be occasionally reviewing some of these bottled ales. I may find the odd 'bottle-conditioned' beer in which case I'll certainly share my experiences here, and who knows, I may even review the occasional lager here too (No beer snob, me!)

Three Bottles From Batemans

A selection of bottled beers from the range currently available from Batemans of Wainfleet. For details of the full range of Batemans bottled beers see

These are NOT bottle-conditioned, so bear in mind that you'll be confronted by the usual fizziness of beer brewed especially for the bottle.

The brewers recommend that each of these three beers go well with various foods, namely: Pizza & pasta, Cheese & Red Meat and Cheese & Meat, respectively. Curious then, that the labelling is keen to point out that each of these is a 'vegan' beer.

I can only assume that this indicates the lack of isinglass, or animal gelatin in the finings process, but if you're using them to accompany meat, it shouldn't really be much of an issue.

Batemans Spring Breeze (500ml bottle; 5.0%ABV)
Crystal clear and golden. Smooth, though with a tongue tingling fruity tang and a lingering malty sweetness.
Batemans Dark Lord (500ml bottle; 5.0%ABV)
A very dark mahogany in colour, bordering on black. The sweetness of the malt and the bitterness of the hops meet in perfect balance, with a burnt malt bite and a smoky, slightly spicy aftertaste.
Batemans Triple XB (500ml bottle; 4.8%ABV)
Dark amber in colour; though sold as a pale ale, this is more accurately described as a 'bottled bitter' if such a thing actually exists. Rich and heavily hopped. Notably bitter in flavour, though floral and citrus tones also shine through, as does an underlying semi-sweetness. Very drinkable.

My Christmas 2010 Bottles Selection

Christmas is a time for families, either visiting relatives or staying at home with immediate family, and though I dearly wish I had relatives who owned a pub, so that I could visit them there, I don't; so realistically this restricts my pub visits over the Christmas period.

When I do get out to the pub, the emphasis will be on socializing and I'd feel rude to spend time reviewing beers rather than enjoying the company of friends, so instead, I'll review the selection of bottled beers I have on hand at home this Christmas.

Badger Golden Champion (500ml bottle; 5.0%ABV)

Light refreshing and crisp. Contains elderflower to provide a strong though smooth ale with floral and citrus flavours; No discernible hoppiness, but maintains a subtle balance between bitterness and sweet malt.
(Hall & Woodhouse Ltd., Blandford St. Mary, Dorset DT11 9LS)

Greene King IPA Export (500ml bottle; 5.0%ABV)

A strong pale ale with aromas of pine resin and tobacco, that linger though not unpleasantly, in the flavour. The taste is primarily hoppy, but with semi-sweet malty overtones.
(Greene King, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk IP33 1QT)

Black Sheep Rigwelter (500ml bottle; 5.7%ABV)

Very dark brown strong ale from Masham; very reminiscent of how 'the other' strong dark ale from Masham used to taste a few years ago. Rich flavours of roasted malt and caramel, vie with a citrus tang and background hoppy bitterness to provide an excellent drinkable ale.
(Black Sheep Brewery PLC, Masham, North Yorkshire HG4 4EN)

Rudgate Battle Axe (500ml bottle; 4.8%ABV)

A ruby brown bitter; malt and hops are nicely balanced, though the sweetness of the malt is immediately evident and the hoppy bitterness comes through in the background flavour. A slight fruity tang lingers on the tongue, as do flavours of berries & citrus fruits.
(Rudgate Brewery, Unit 2, Centre Park, Marston Business Park, Tockwith, York YO26 7QF)

Nethergate Growler (500ml bottle; 5.5%ABV)

A strong black porter; rich and bitter with a roasted malt aftertaste and a slight semi-sweet background flavour with faint liquorice hints. Surprisingly refreshing considering the strength.
(Nethergate Brewery Ltd., Pentlow, Essex CO10 7JJ)

Brakspear Triple (500ml bottle; 7.2%ABV)

Rich strong BOTTLE CONDITIONED ale. A malty and aromatic brew, this comes across as almost a 'barley wine' It's fermented three times; twice in the brewery and then again in the bottle. The bottle conditioning removes any sign of gassiness from the beer, making this as close as you can get to bottled 'real ale.' A real treat.
(Brakspear Brewing, Marston's PLC, Wychwood Brewery, Witney, Oxfordshire OX28 4DP)

Bottled Beers from Barnsley

The Barnsley Beer Company produce a range of 13 regular bottled beers, which are very reasonably priced. I found them at Rythym & Booze, King Street, Cottingham at only £1 per bottle. Currently their availability is limited to in and around Yorkshire, but I'm sure that this will improve once the supermarkets become aware of both their quality and their more than competitive pricing point.

Each beer has its own character, which extends to the label. Label notes emphasize the Yorkshire character of the brewery: notes are often in Yorkshire dialect (as are some of the beer names!) There are even suggestions as to which types of food each beer should accompany entitled "Great Wi Snap" (translation: 'Good with Food')

I've sampled each of the current Barnsley range recently and posted the reviews below.

As of September 2010, the Barnsley Beer Company have been producing selected ales from their range as cask versions, so watch out for draught Barnsley in your local pub.

Get Thi Coit! Tha's Pulled! (500ml bottle; 4.0%ABV)
(well known chat up line pronounced elsewhere as 'Get your coat, you've pulled;)

A ruby coloured beer. Very smooth, very rich and malty.

Label notes: "Romantic Ruby Red Ale" 3 little words that mean so much. Romance has always been close to any Tyke's heart (and wallet) and now here's a delicious ruby red ale to help celebrate any special occasion.

Great wi' snap: Why not try Get Thi Coit over a candlelit dinner of hot chops and pigs heart, infused with jus de passion.

Bee By Gum (500ml bottle; 4.3%ABV)

A pale golden beer, sweet with floral fragrances and flavours of honey, and a subtle dry bitterness.

Label notes: Skilfully blended beer using a selection of finest local honeys. Four different seasonal blossoms give BbG its distinctive and ever changing flavours.

Great wi' snap: Why not try Bee by Gum with the biggest Barnsley Chop tha can lay thee hands on!

Nutty Stack (500ml bottle; 4.4%ABV)

Ruby coloured. A rich flavour of roasted malt with a slight citrus tang. richer sweeter background tastes are also present.

Label notes: "Cracking Robust Ale" A robust deep red, nutty and full bodied malty beer, which enjoys a delicious caramel and toffee finish.

Great wi' snap: May we suggest trying Nutty Stack with a round of Yorkshire puds and lashings of jam!

Shut Thi Gob (500ml bottle; 5.1%ABV)

Malty and rich, but with a sharp bitterness and a slightly peppery aftertaste. Tastier and much less gassy than 'the famous' bottled brown ale from further north.

Label notes: "Hear All, See All, Say Nowt" A complex combination of three different types of grain give a gorgeous brown ale with a slightly spicy aroma from the abundance of German hops 

Great wi' snap: Why not try Shut Thi Gob with a mixed platter of trotters, cow heels, pig's bladder and elder!

Owd Tyke (500ml bottle; 4.6%ABV)

Rich and malty, with a nutty background taste. Bitterness is evident only in the aftertaste, and even then the malt is the dominant flavour. 

Label notes: An attractive copper red malty beer with a delicious roasted coffee aftertaste - faithful to the bitter end

Great wi' snap: Why not try Owd Tyke with a large growler and a selection of spiced chutneys!

Clog Iron (500ml bottle; 4.3%ABV)

Sweet, malty and very smooth. Not particularly like any dark milds I've had on draught, but very reminiscent of the nut brown ales our grandads used to drink.

Label notes: "'E Duntarf Nosum Stuff" A luscious tasty, deep garnet colour mild, with sweet toffee overtones balanced with traditional English Fuggles and Golding hops.

Great wi' snap: Why not try Clog Iron with tripe, onions and a liberal dash of single vineyard, oak aged, vintage balsamic vinegar!

Bobby Dazzler (500ml bottle; 4.8%ABV)

A strong, nutty pale ale with a citrus bitterness that outlines the nutty flavour.

Label notes: "In ti tot?" A golden glittering strong pale ale, well balanced and with a European combination of Slovenian hops and a unique German finish.

Great wi' snap: Why not try Bobby Dazzler with lashings of salty beef dripping on freshly baked, rosemary infused focaccia!

Black Brite (500ml bottle; 4.5% ABV)

Much sweeter than many dry 'Irish' stouts, more reminiscent of old fashioned cream stouts. The sweetness lies somewhere between caramel and treacle, and the flavour contains the promised chocolate and coffee hints.

Label notes: A dark and deeply delicious stout with mouth watering coffee and chocolate overtones.

Great wi' snap: Why not enjoy a bottle of Black Brite with your favourite pie and pea supper - and mint sauce!

Ronnie's Owd Cock (500ml bottle; 4.0%ABV)

An absolutely beautiful pale ale. Solid bitterness from the hops blends proportionately with the 'pine resin' flavour, which is characteristic of many pale ales, although here it doesn't overpower the hoppiness. As promised on the label the bitterness lingers at the finish, but so too do all of the other subtle flavours with this fine beer.

Label notes: Light and golden in colour with wonderful bursts of citrus fruits and an unforgettable hoppyness at the finish.

Ronnie Swaine was the co-founder and colourful chairman of Rhythm and Booze. This beer has been brewed to celebrate and commemorate his life, his legacy and his combined passion for great beer and great value. A Barnsley man of great character, integrity, wit and wisdom, his memory will be forever cherished. Raise a glass and a smile to Ronnie's Owd Cock! 10p from every bottle sold goes to Bowel Cancer UK; Raising awareness, saving lives.

Barnsley Better (500ml bottle; 3.8%ABV)

A very hoppy pale ale with the citrus bitterness of a bitter, and the nutty flavour of a pale ale, intensely bitter, but refreshing. 

Label notes: An attractive nut brown traditional bitter with satisfying toffee overtones and brewed following the original Barnsley Bitter recipe.

Great wi' snap: Why not try Barnsley Better with fish and chips, not forgetting the mushy peas and scraps of course!

Coil Oil (500ml bottle; 3.9%ABV)

Black and spicy, very bitter, very dry, with a range of different aftertastes.

Label notes: A delicious black and tan ingeniously and enticingly spiced with a selection of star anise, cloves, cinnamon, lime leaves and dried tangerine peel.

Great wi' snap: Why not try Coil Oil with a gorgeous black pudding bhuna!

They Think It's Ale Over (500ml bottle; 4.2%ABV)

Lightly hopped, smooth and malty; suprisingly soft for a bottled ale, with very little fizziness.

Label notes: A strikingly traditional red and white English Ale bursting with a net full of fruity flavour! (as drunk by WAGS - Wentworth Ale Groupies)

Barnsley Blonde (500ml bottle; 5.0%ABV)

Strong and full flavoured. Nutty and intensely bitter, the bitterness lingering on the tongue for a long time after the swallow.

Label notes: Shimmers and shimmies with an attractive and seductively golden full bodied flavour that is sure to tantalise your taste buds. At 5% with a fruity bitter aftertaste and deliciously satisfying aroma, this is a blonde to truly savour.

Great wi' snap: Why not treat your Barnsley Blonde to a romantic evening in with a gurt big bag of the finest pork scratchings!

Well that's all 13 bottled brews sampled, but I'll do my best to review any of the available cask brews on the 'Draught Beers' page as soon as I come across them.

(Barnsley Beer Company, The Old Chapel, Doncaster Road, Ardsley, Barnsley S71 5AY)

My Christmas Bottled Beer Selection 2012

Last time I did this was in 2010, but somehow I managed to overlook it last Christmas, so to make up for not reviewing any bottled beers for Christmas 2011, here's a selection of 18 (yes, EIGHTEEN) bottles this year. Depending on when you're reading this, there might be one or two reviews missing. That can't be helped: If I review them all at once, then I have to drink them all at once, and if I do that I won't be in a fit state to type, let alone give an objective review. This year's bottles are quite a varied selection; I'll review each of them as and when I drink them, so expect the reviews to be complete some time around New Year.

Banks's Bitter (500ml bottle; 3.8%ABV)
A bitter with a rich golden colour, and a good solid hoppy flavour with malty overtones and citrus hints. The hops linger on the palate providing a clean fresh finish.
(Park Brewery, Bath Road, Wolverhampton, West Midlands, WV1 4NY)

Wychwood Goliath (500ml bottle; 4.2%ABV)
Amber in colour and predominately malty in flavour. Full bodied and rich with a medium hoppiness present in the background. Very moreish.
(Wychwood Brewery, Eagle Maltings, The Crofts, Witney, Oxfordshire, OX28 4DP)

Marston's Owd Roger (500ml bottle; 7.4%ABV)
A strong dark brown brew with a rich malty flavour and an undeniable strength. The overall flavour is one of rich malty sweetness, with hints of raisins, plums and orchard fruits. Despite it's strength, this one demands to be quaffed rather than sipped. Certainly not a session brew: more of a well-deserved treat.
(Marston's Beer Company Limited, c/o Marston's PLC, Marston's House, Brewery Road, Wolverhampton, WV1 4JT)

Shepherd Neame Celebration 1698 (500ml bottle; 6.5%ABV)
A rich strong copper coloured BOTTLE CONDITIONED ale. This excellent brew is heavily hopped, with a background pine resin flavour, peppery overtones, together with hints of liquorice and caramel. It's lack of gassiness makes it incredibly drinkable, so try not to overlook how strong it really is.
(Shepherd Neame Limited, The Faversham Brewery, 17 Court Street, Faversham, Kent ME13 7AX)

Wychwood Hobgoblin (500ml bottle; 5.2%ABV)
Dark ruby in colour. Moderately bitter with an understated maltiness. Background flavours range from citrus fruit to toffee and chocolate.
(Wychwood Brewery, Eagle Maltings, The Crofts, Witney, Oxfordshire, OX28 4DP)
Hook Norton Twelve Days (500ml bottle; 5.5%ABV)
A dark brown (almost black) beer. It's overall flavour is malty though not overly sweet, with a distinct 'burnt malt' bitterness. There are nutty background flavours together with hints of spice and chocolate.
(The Hook Norton Brewery Co Ltd, Brewery Lane, Hook Norton, Oxfordshire, OX15 5NY)

Marston's EPA (500ml bottle; 3.6%ABV)
A very pale, 'blonde' colour. Very light in body: refreshing and highly hopped, with a citrus bite and a faint resinous background flavour. Very drinkable and of a strength that makes it a good choice as a session beer.
(Marston's Beer Company Limited, c/o Marston's PLC, Marston's House, Brewery Road, Wolverhampton, WV1 4JT)

Jennings Sneck Lifter (500ml bottle; 5.1%ABV)
Very dark brown with ruby hints. A full bodied, full flavoured malty brew; with balanced (if a little understated) hoppiness. The overall effect is a delightful malty, smokey brew.
(Castle Brewery, Cockermouth, Cumbria, CA13 9NE)

Shepherd Neame Master Brew (500ml bottle; 4.0%ABV)
Amber in colour, this beer is highly hopped, very dry with overtones of citrus fruits. There's a subtle malty sweetness detectable in the background, but not enough to take anything away from the signature bitterness.
(Shepherd Neame Limited, The Faversham Brewery, 17 Court Street, Faversham, Kent ME13 7AX)

Shepherd Neame Spitfire (500ml bottle; 4.5%ABV)
A reddish amber coloured brew. Medium hopped with a nicely rounded bitterness blending nicely with a semi-sweet maltiness. There are background flavours of citrus and vine fruits, together with floral and spicy tones.
(Shepherd Neame Limited, The Faversham Brewery, 17 Court Street, Faversham, Kent ME13 7AX)
Brakspear Bitter (500ml bottle; 3.4%ABV)
Copper coloured. Very bitter flavour; high in hops with a slightly metallic background taste. There are hints of caramel and of orchard fruit. Very refreshing and of a strength that makes it ideal as a session beer, or as an accompaniment to meals.
(Brakspear Brewing Company, Wychwood Brewery, Eagle Maltings, The Crofts, Witney, Oxfordshire OX28 4DP)

Hook Norton Old Hooky (500ml bottle; 4.6%ABV)
A reddish bronze coloured ale. This one is apparently available as a bottle conditioned version, but unfortunately the one I sampled certainly wasn't bottle conditioned. It's a medium hopped brew, with very distinct caramel malt flavours complementing the bitterness of the hops. There are fruity background hints, but these are very subtle, the overwhelmingly outstanding flavour being one of caramel. Review of draught version *here*
(The Hook Norton Brewery Co Ltd, Brewery Lane, Hook Norton, Oxfordshire, OX15 5NY)

Jennings Cocker Hoop (500ml bottle; 4.2%ABV)
There's a lovely glowing golden colour to this beer. It's very dry & very bitter; highly hopped with a slight maltiness underlaying the distinctive bitterness. The bitterness is totally without any hints of tannin, coming purely from the hops and roasted malt, though there are subtle hints of citrus bitterness. The dryness remains on the palate, but being lacking in tannin, this aftertaste is very pleasant. Review of draught version *here*
(Castle Brewery, Cockermouth, Cumbria, CA13 9NE)

Shepherd Neame Whitstable Bay (500ml bottle; 4.5%ABV)
Dark amber in colour. A very dry, very bitter brew. High in hops with hints of nuts & wheat. Citrus overtones are present, though these are somewhat subtle. Apparently this is an organic ale (if that kind of thing is important to you!)
(Shepherd Neame Limited, The Faversham Brewery, 17 Court Street, Faversham, Kent ME13 7AX)

Marston's Strong Pale Ale (500ml bottle; 6.2%ABV)
Amber in colour, but with an almost golden blush. This is a medium sweet pale ale, with a very emphasized toffee caramel flavour. The hops are hardly discernible, with only a slight citrus bitterness detectable; nevertheless it's quite refreshing and easily drinkable. There are none of the expected pine resin or biscuit aromas that are often found in pale ales. There's an overall richness that lingers on the palate, which is the only indication of this beer's alcoholic strength.
(Marston's Beer Company Limited, c/o Marston's PLC, Marston's House, Brewery Road, Wolverhampton, WV1 4JT)

Ringwoods Fortyniner (500ml bottle; 4.9%ABV)
A light to medium golden colour. Smooth and well balanced, the sweetness of the malt is complemented well by the citrus bitterness of the hops. There are slight aftertastes reminiscent of nuts and spice.
(Ringwood Brewery, 138 Christchurch Road, Ringwood, Hampshire, BH24 3AP)

Shepherd Neame Bishops Finger (500ml bottle; 5.4%ABV)
Golden to reddish brown in colour. A full bodied rich flavoured ale with a medium bitterness. The overall impression is one of maltiness, but this is punctuated with fruity highlights (both citrus and orchard fruits) and there are background flavours both nutty and spicy. Review of the draught version *here*
(Shepherd Neame Limited, The Faversham Brewery, 17 Court Street, Faversham, Kent ME13 7AX)

Jennings Bitter (500ml bottle; 3.5%ABV)
A rich chestnut brown colour, this beer is medium hopped but has a nutty dryness that blends with the medium sweet malt beautifully. The overall taste is one of a rich bitter that tastes much stronger than it is. The nutty and slightly spicy background flavour adds body to what is a light drinkable bitter.
(Castle Brewery, Cockermouth, Cumbria, CA13 9NE)

Three Wychwood Bottles

Dr. Thirsty's No. 4 Blonde (500ml bottle; 4.1%ABV)
A beautifully rich blonde beer; very similar to an India Pale Ale, with a perfect blend between hoppy bitterness, malty sweetness and pine resin fragrance; very, very moreish.

Wychwood Arrowaine (500ml bottle; 3.6%ABV)
Dark and malty, though somewhat lacking in body; very much like a nut brown ale or possibly a cream stout, but without the punch you might expect from either; nevertheless, a refreshing and smooth, malty brew, with very little evidence of any hoppy bitterness.

Wychwood Fire Catcher (500ml bottle; 3.5%ABV)
Looks more like a blonde ale than the golden ale it claims to be on the label, though the flavour is more like a very light and fruity pale ale. Citrus flavours are foremost, with just a hint of hoppiness and a faint pine resin background. Very refreshing.

(Wychwood Brewery, Eagle Maltings, The Crofts, Witney, Oxfordshire OX28 4DP)