There are few things in life better than getting to the end of a long shop and finding that somehow, you’ve managed to amble your way, at long last, to the beer aisle.
Picture it in front of you (or alternatively use the one above): gone are the walls of generic big brand lager, instead an alchemist’s library of golden (and red and black) liquid greets you. IPAs sit alongside lagers, stouts jostle for your attention amongst clusters of red ales and golden ales sit in contrast to dark porters.
In these days of ever increasing product knowledge and desire for quality and locally sourced produce, even the big Supermarket groups are beginning to realise that consumers are looking for greater choice.
With that in mind we decided to create a series of reviews looking at the beer offerings of some of the bigger supermarkets.
This week we were seriously impressed, Aldi's presentation might not be the best but boy, were we astounded by their beer offering:
Scottish ales and lager
The first thing we noticed was Aldi's commendably increasing commitment to Scottish produce - there are saltires all over the place - and nowhere was this more apparent than in the beer section.
Tempest Brewing Co. - The Pale Armadillo
We love Tempest like children love cake and we were more than a little surprised to see the Pale Armadillo here. It's not exactly a common beer and we have to give Aldi's buyers serious kudos for this coup. Made using armarillo hops and with a pleasantly citrusy and hoppy taste (think crunchy biscuit and tropical fruits), we could easily drink this all day. Definite Star Buy.
Note: Though we didn't see it Aldi apparently also do the slightly higher abv Long White Cloud, another great beer.
For those who...... love great Scottish beer.
Brewdog - This. Is. Lager/ Dead Pony Club/ Punk IPA
Fairly standard range from the now ubiquitous Brewdog, of the three on offer we would definitely give a nod to the often overlooked Dead Pony Club. A little solid punch of hops to the mouth, DPC is a wonderfully rich tasting little ale hints of citrus and spice on the finish.
DPC ABV: 3.8% PUNK ABV: 5.6% This. Is. Lager Abv: 4.7%
For those who..... want to try Scottish craft beer for the first time
Well received on many beer review sites, McEwans Champion is a great nod to the formerly ubiquitous (and many would say, widely missed) Scottish brand. Not content to settle on nostalgic appeal, the Caledonian Brewing Company have created a deliciously warm Scottish ale with a delightfully fruity and malty taste. Be warned though, it goes down easy and at 7.2% abv you might want to be mindful of how many you drink.
For those who…… love a little bit of nostalgia as well as a great beer
Guid Ale - All malts and fruit, the guid ale is quite a light refreshing beer, nice and easy going. Perfect on a warm day or for sharing with friends. Abv: 3.8%
Sunset - Bit more depth and complexity is apparent in this amber beer when compared to the Guid Ale. Good mixture of malt, hops and fruit. Abv: 4.4%
Red Squirrel - Perhaps the most famous of the Arran beers and for good reason, a rich red session ale, it offers a warm nutty aroma, hints of caramel and malt. Abv: 3.9%
For those who.... like classic real ale
Kelburn - Pivo Estivo
Another great, if unexpected, edition, to a growing list of great beers on offer. Kelburn is a brilliant little brewery who have been quietly and consistently producing high quality beers for years.
Pivo Estivo is one of their most refreshing and easy drinking beers. A mixture of Czech and Italian, the name loosely translates as 'Summer Beer' and that's exactly what it is. It was originally a session ale but it's popularity has seen it become part of the permanent range.
For those who.... like a great real ale, done well
By far the biggest variety of William's Bros. beers we've seen on a supermarket shelf, ranging from standard core bottles like Seven Giraffes (medium hopped IPA with a blend of 7 grains, 3 hop strains and a late infusion of Elderflower & Lemon), Caesar Augustus (Lager /IPA hybrid) and Birds & Bees (fruity, golden ale) to session beers like The Honey Thief (honeyed golden ale) and Golden Ratio (Citrus golden ale).
March of the Penguins is our pick of the bunch though, a lovely little creamy stout well worth trying if you like your beers dark.
For those who.... Love a great choice from a cracking brewery
Rest of the world
Happy to say that most of the focus was on great Scottish beer but should you be in the mind for something different then Aldi offer the wonderful Shofferhoffer.
A huge flavoured German Hefeweizen brewed in Bavarian tradition using wheat malt. The live yeast gives bottle "conditioning" guaranteeing a refreshing fruity flavor.
For those who.... like big punching wheat beer
Note: There is Spaten on their site too, though we didn't see any on the shelves, it's another great German beer well worth looking out for.
Overall thoughts: All we can say is Wow! The selection of Scottish beers is something you'd expect from a specialist not a supermarket and there's some true gems to be found. Best of all was the price, think we might go beer shopping here more often.