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Mesmerised&Surprised in 2021

There used to be a time when buying a different beer in a supermarket involved grabbing a bottle of Innis & Gunn. We all started somewhere, eh? Simpler times.

2021 is looking a bit different. Now there’s an abundance of well known and highly respected breweries taking up much coveted shelf space in the alcohol section of our supermarkets. One of these breweries is North Wales’ Polly Brew. Yeah, I know, Polly’s! And get this, in M&S.

I shall repeat. Polly’s Brew Co in Marks & Spencer.

“Well cover me in eggs and flour and bake me for 40 minutes.” Google it if you don’t get it.

Not only that, when I recently visited the Belfast city centre store in Donegall Place, I was also able to pick up brews from Oslo’s Amundsen, London’s Brick and Mikkeller from Denmark (and everywhere else). I really did feel like a kid in a sweet shop.

Let’s line these sweeties up and try not to get too much of a sugar high.

After giving them the big build up, I’ll begin with Polly’s and their 5.0% ABV Moonwrecker pale ale. The label mentions Citra, Chinook, Simcoe and Mosaic hops, so we should know where we’re heading. And head there we do indeed. Light and understated grapefruit and satsuma are the order of the day to start and although the label doesn’t include lactose in the ingredients, there’s a slight creaminess. The oats maybe have a lot to do with that. I wanted to enjoy it and thankfully I wasn’t disappointed.

Amundsen’s 330ml can of Everday Hero is next, a 4.7% ABV self-proclaimed New World IPA, whatever that may mean. Make your own assumptions. I’d call it a mid-range IPA, but that doesn’t sound as exciting. What it definitely is, is a lemon sherbet-esque beer. It took me by surprise to be honest. Not a full on twang lemon sourness but a few mouthfuls will certainly awaken your taste buds more than you’d expect. It’s a thirst quencher some might say. It’s also a little dry. Can you have a dry lemon? Apparently so. In an IPA filled world, was it memorable? Not really.

Next in line is a first for me, that being a beer from Peckham’s Brick Brewery. Strawberry and Cucumber Sour pours a deep orange colour but is a cucumber assault, the folk at Brick haven’t scrimped on the veg. It’s light and foamy, bursting with green freshness and while the strawberry essence does provide a small sweet hint, cucumber dominates this beer. Expect low level sourness and at a mere 3.8% ABV, it’s the kind of strength that lends itself to being repeatedly bought for a barbecue or the like. The question is though, should you buy it at all? My answer is most definitely yes, if you like cucumber.

This post will bow out with Blow Out by Mikkeller and labelled as a 6% ABV Modern IPA. What is it with these new titles? It’s very appealing when poured in the glass, coming out a vibrant golden-orange colour. I’m surprised to taste a little funky beer at the start, dare I say saison-esque? I wasn’t aware these are now called a modern IPA. A few sips later and the funkiness disappears, it becomes dry and musty, to the point that I’m looking back at the can for the best before date. It’s a fortnight away. There’s no canned date so I’ve no idea how old the beer actually is. Lesson learned there, I think when fresh this may be a better beer than I experienced.

The cucumber sour is my pick of the M&S bunch here. Even just typing that seems weird. The times we live in now eh? With more choice of styles now in supermarkets than ever before, if you only buy your beer at the same time as your weekly food shop, then there’s no excuse not to push the boat out and broaden your beery horizons. Enjoy!

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