Craft Beer: Hillstown's beers at and Breakfast Club are among supermarkets' hits
I'M OFTEN sent emails, which I'm not the best at responding to, as some of you can attest to – but keep them coming though anyway. A few enquire about where I buy my beer and suggest I should include prices and details of availability.
I don't include prices because they vary greatly between off-licences and also based on the strength of the beer. Availability can depend on what part of the country you live in and if you have a decent bottle shop nearby. If you're lucky enough to have a discerning beer seller close to home, follow them on Facebook and Twitter because they'll definitely want to shout about the latest craft beers they've crammed on to their shelves.
Supermarkets are a bit hit and miss when it comes to craft beer as it often doesn't give them the big margins they crave, but things have definitely got better over the last few years. Some are stocking some cracking ales and realising there is a demand for quality and, at times, locally produced produce.
In recent weeks Lidl have started stocking three beers from Co Antrim brewers Hillstown. With a store in almost every town, you can pick up a bottle of Douglas Top Lager, Mid Hill IPA and Long Mountain Wheat. Pint bottles are £1.99 each, or you can get four for £7 which is pretty decent value for local small-batch beer.
Meanwhile, Tesco, who already stock the Vocation core range, are selling a can of the English brewers' collaboration with Antipodean beer makers Yeastie Boys. Breakfast Club is a billed as a blueberry waffle breakfast stout which, at 6.9 per cent, strays into imperial territory.
It pours a jet black colour and the head dissapates pretty quickly, not surprising considering it's just shy of 7 per cent.
You get that sweet waffle aroma on the nose, with just a hint of the fruity blueberries. Now, I had this 440ml can in the fridge all day and it definitely was a touch over chilled on the first gulp. Once the temperature gets up a bit, the flavours flood over the palate. There's that sweet, biscuity malt of the waffle, a bit of coffee and a slight vinous flavour from the blueberries.
It's a tad thin for stout, but there's plenty going on and although it's a breakfast stout, it's perfect to sip on crisp, cool evening. It's a limited brew, so move fast if you want to pick up can at just £3 in your local Tesco.