It’s been a while since I bought any beers from Marks and Spencer’s new beer range, so I popped in one day last week and picked up a few that I haven’t had before. The selection available in the Cambridge Market Square store isn’t the largest, it seems to have shrunk over time, I’ve not been to their dedicated food store at the Beehive yet, it might have a better selection.
The Lincolnshire Best Bitter is brewed by Bateman’s and poured a cooper colour with a loose fluffy white head. It smelt of fruity malt, with something else that I can’t place. Having said that, it something that I generally detect in all Bateman’s beers, so it must be down to their yeast or water or some such. It tasted very fruity, bit with that edge that I find Bateman’s beers have. It had a bit of bitterness, but I didn’t think it had enough to balance the fruitiness of the malt.
- Marks & Spencer brewed by Batemans
- Lincolnshire Best Bitter, 4.9%, 500 ml
The Staffordshire IPA is brewed by Marston’s, and poured a gorgeous pale copper colour with a loose fluffy white head, the head dropped to a covering quite quickly. The initial small was all grassy hops with a hint of malt underneath and was really quite nice. I was expecting a bit of Burton snatch, but there wasn’t anything I could detect on the nose.
It started out fruity and then this almost fiery mineral taste came and want with quite a bit of effervescence. It was a bit perplexing to be honest, it just bulldozed all over the flavours and resulted in a not overly pleasant bitter fruity after taste. I found it to be quite off putting as every mouthful was the same and I found myself wishing it would go away.
- Marks & Spencer brewed by Marston’s
- Staffordshire IPA, 5.5%, 500 ml
Last up was a seasonal special, Essex Summer Ale, which is brewed by Crouch Vale. I had high hopes for this as I really like some of their beers. It poured a pale straw colour, with a large loose fluffy white head that collapses quite quickly. Lots and lots of bubbles inside the glass, definitely giving the jacuzzi that was White Shield a run for its money. It smelt fresh with a hint of malt underneath, the expected tropical fruit aromas were no where to be found.
The mouth feel wasn’t as rough as I was expecting, but I could feel a definite prickle from the all the carbonation. I was really disappointed, because what taste there is was, was unfortunately swamped by the taste of carbon dioxide that rampaged across the mouth and lingered like an unwanted acquaintance who wont leave at the end of your house party.
I decided to leave the beer for a bit to try and get most of the carbonation out of it. After leaving it for a hour, the carbonation had dropped right down and the carbon dioxide taste had mostly gone, but there wasn’t much there to replace it. It was like you could tell the beer was flat, it needed a bit of sparkle to bring it to life, it just had way too much. It ended up just being a bit bland, like a bottle of soda stream that’s been fizzed and left to go flat.
- Marks & Spencer brewed by Crouch Vale
- Essex Summer Ale, 4%, 500 ml
None of these beers are bottle conditiond, the Essex Summer Ale is vegetarian and the Lincolnshire Best Bitter is vegan.