It seems that some beer bottle sizes are set to shrink as the industry ponders how to keep up their discount offers in the face of price rises and tax increases. Sales of smaller size spirits are increasing already, with unfamiliar 50cl bottles becoming more common and it looks like some beers may follow to allow the same price to be maintained for multi pack offers. Hardly surprising as everything seems to be shrinking to maintain price, from Dairy Milk to toilet cleaner.
Now this is of course unlikely to affect the 500ml size preferred for most premium bottled beers, but maybe, just maybe, it would be possible that we will see some bottle size reductions in the over 7.5% range, recently hit by extra beer duty. We will have to wait and see on that one, but it could be that some producers would rather see the price increase "absorbed" that way.
Bottled beer sizes and prices are unlikely to affect me unduly of course, as I don't drink much of them, but the subject does allow me to link to my recent experience as a guest at the judging of Sainsbury's Great British Beer Hunt Final - an all bottled beer event and thus a rarity for me. There was eight beers to try and most weren't bad at all, but overall it reinforced in my mind, that drinking even decent British standard beers at home is unlikely to give you the same taste experience as drinking them cask conditioned in the pub. (Hardly news I know and I would say that wouldn't I?) Funnily enough it is to my mind the bottled versions of what you might called "bitter" in all its forms that suffers most from bottling. Stronger, darker beers tend to taste better and speciality beers probably do best of all, with pale hoppy ones also standing a very good chance of success.
It was nonetheless a very enjoyable event and good to meet a number of interesting and pleasant people. The winner was, perhaps then unsurprisingly, a dark beer, Good King John from Ridgeway Brewing, who remarkably had two beers in the final eight. The runner up, Caesar Augustus from William Brothers, could be described as a "speciality beer" being a hybrid of lager and IPA, though to this drinker, it had more characteristics of the former than the latter. It was an enjoyable beer though, like most stuff from this brewery and worthy of its place in the top two. My own favourite was Wild Hop IPA from Harviestoun. I could imagine a few bottles of that would not be a hardship at all, though that's clearly not what the judges thought. Some veterans of Sainsbury's Beer Hunting remarked to me that the best beer wasn't there, namely Williams Brother's Profanity Stout and certainly this has been echoed on the blogosphere, though I can't opine, as I haven't been able to find it myself.
So all in all a very enjoyable and different afternoon, superbly organised by Sainsbury's and brilliantly hosted by wine buff Ollie Smith who professed to being a beer lover too.
And you know what? He seemed such a genuinely nice guy that I believe him.
A bit of a CV. Tandleman is a veteran beer lover, local CAMRA Chairman and activist, beer writer, beer reviewer and pursuer of all things good in beer. He lives in the North West of England and London. Despite his CAMRA membership, he does not limit himself to cask conditioned beer, though he believes that cask conditioning, when done correctly and appropriately, brings a quality to beer that is hard to equal by any other kind of presentation. He is a strong supporter of Northern methods of beer dispense and avidly detests poorly presented beer and dislikes pasteurisation. He regularly visits Germany, has conducted corporate British and German beer tastings for CAMRA at the Great British Beer Festival where he has worked for years on Biere Sans Frontieres and was Deputy Organiser at CAMRA's very successful National Winter Ales Festival in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 and at the Manchester Beer and Cider Festival from 2013 to date. He admires good brewers wherever they are and has travelled extensively in pursuit of good beer to drink.
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