Thursday 17 April 2008

Beer Geek's Breakfast

Well, this beer geek's breakfast was judging the Sainsbury's Beer Competition yesterday and the final 15 were a jolly impressive round-up of good to great beers - full list below.

My personal favourite of the bunch was Holden's Golden Glow - do you know why? Because it is a just a really good, easy drinking, well balanced beer - and you just don't get enough of those these days.

It is a British ale, just 4.4%, and it's made with Maris Otter and Fuggles - and all those simple things somehow combined to make beery nectar of the highest order.

What really struck me about this beer was it did everything just right - the mouthfeel was silky without being sickly, the biscuit of the malt wasn't too sweet and the hops were just bitter enough to make me want to take another sip, and another, and another!

So well done Holden's - for me you were head and shoulders above everyone else in the craft of balanced brewing.

I also had a good chat with the beer buyer - and Sainsbury's seems pretty committed to stocking good beer and supporting the brewers who make it, which is nice to see.

I'm not advocating abandoning local beer purveyors if you use them, but if you are going to shop in a supermarket for your beer then choose one that gives brewers a fair deal.

Anyway, on to the reason for the title of this post. Having finished in Holborn I had to head to Borough to do some work on my new joint venture and I got caught, as so often happens, having a couple in the Rake.

Whereupon I met Phil Lowry from Cave Direct , who may need to redeem himself after saying something along the lines of 'you look nothing like your facebook picture' and then following it up later with the comment 'it's a sexy picture'!!!! My fragile ego has naturally been shattered by these comments...

Anyway, he's currently still, just about, making the Christmas card list because he introduced me to the Beer Geek's Breakfast, a coffee stout from Mikkeller.

These former home-brew enthusiasts were voted fifth best Danish brewer in 2006 and on the strength of this beer I can see why.

Although I will honestly say it's a little sweet for my taste, coffee lovers will adore it - it's made with a pretty complex mix of malts, hops, molasses and coffee - pale, oat, smoked, caramunich, brown, pale chocolate and chocolate, roasted barley, flaked oats, Palisade, Centennial and Cascade.

And I love their unashamed assertion that you should actually drink this to start the day: "Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, many say, and if you are a beer geek there is no better way to start the day than with a powerful, complex morning stout. The unique mix of oats and coffee gives this beer large body and power, while the coffee, at the same time, creates a nice balance."

Couldn't have said it better myself!

Sainsbury's Beer Competition Winners
Williams Bros Brewing Co Good Times
Holden's Brewery Ltd Golden Glow
Hampshire Brewery Pendragon
Highgate Brewery Ltd Highgate Old Ale
St Peter's Brewery St Peter's Amarillo Ale
Sharps Brewery Honey Spice Wheat Beer
Okell & Son Ltd Dr Okells IPA
Copper Dragon Scotts 1816
Frederic Robinson Ltd Ginger Tom
Redrat Craft Brewery Crazy Dog Stout
Bath Ales Barnstormer
Ridgeway Brewing Beer of the Gods
Greene King Greene King Sun Dance
Arundel Brewery Prizefighter
Williams Bros Brewing Co Harvest Son
Cairngorm Brewery Company Trade Winds


Anonymous said...

"Full list below" - you may have gotten a little sidetracked by the Mikkeler ;-)

I wonder how much of your average supermarkets' bottled ales are from local or small brewers. They may list a lot of bottles, but I get the feeling the store managers will only stock stuff which moves. My local Tesco (small) is dominated by GK 'brands' and S&N, while a bigger Sainsbury's has much more space but not much more imagination.

We need somebody in the supermarket trade with the cojones of Safeway when Glenn Payne was buying for 'em...

-- Boggle

Melissa Cole said...

Ahh, well actually I hit publish before they sent me the final list and they still haven't so I'm just waiting to upload - never mind it makes people comment!

I completely agree with your praise of Mr Payne, which is why I've gone into business with him - for details - but I also have to take the beer buyer's word that he is committed to making the beer category better.

If he fails to deliver then I shall rain down wrath - but in the meantime I think the competition was a great step forward and, for me, it's excellent that they not only guaranteed the price per unit before people won - they also increased it when the ruinous Budget was announced.

To me that's a good sign of better things to come from Sainsbury's - fingers crossed.

Anonymous said...

Good to see you Saturday! Thanks for everything!

and, sorry!


Anonymous said...

Me again. This competition will be decided based on sales of the final 15 in 300 Sainsbury's. That sounds stilted (where are the 300? Have Sainsbury's said?), but what happens then? Once the winners are listed, will all Sainsbury's have to take them?

I wonder if this is the best way to support craft or micro-brewing in the UK?

Anonymous said...

I visited your site today and think we both could really benefit from exchanging links to each other. We could either do a reciprocal link or a three way link trade which would be most beneficial to both of us as it is a one way link to each other. Our site is

With the three way link trade we would add a blog post on that linked to your main page and 2 sub pages via keyword. In return you would link back to The advantage to this is that you get 3 links back from in return for linking to

If you are interested in swapping links please let us know, email us at

Thanks for your time.


Anonymous said...

Great post, I really enjoyed it. I will have to bookmark this site for later.