Thursday, December 11, 2008

Two Christmas beers

Will you put beer on the Christmas table and if not, why not? I’d almost guarantee that at least one of your guests would prefer it to wine and it’s a great deal cheaper to buy a good beer than it is a good wine.

It’s funny though that people don’t take it as seriously. Even men (and it is still mainly men who drink beer) who religiously go to the pub after work and love nothing better than a good pint feel they have to serve wine when they have friends round. Hopefully this blog will help change that.

Anyway - two Christmassy bottles:

Shepherd Neame Christmas Ale 2008 Available from the brewery by the case for £33.95 for 12 bottles, carriage included and from the Co-op for £1.69 a 500ml bottle. Someone also told me they'd seen it in Lidl . . .)
A rich, sweet, strong (7%) malty brew with a taste (apparent or real) of honey and Christmas spice that suggests treating it an alternative to port rather than as a companion to turkey. It would go brilliantly with Stilton or cheddar and even, I think, with sweet things like Christmas cake, Christmas pudding and mince pies. It would also make a cracking beef stew or festive steak and ale pie. RATING: ***

La Chouffe bière blonde £3.99 for 75cl Oddbins
Not a Christmas bottle per se but the rather kitsch gnome on the label suggests this unfiltered, bottle-conditioned, slightly spicy Belgian beer might the one to open with the turkey. Like the above beer, it’s a strong (8%) which means it should take all the trimmings in its stride. Although more expensive than the better known Leffe Blonde it has considerably more character. If you don’t get round to drinking it this Christmas it will still be OK next year and the Christmas after that. The ‘drink by’ date is April 2011!j RATING: ***


  1. Thanks for this post - we have someone joining us for Christmas who much prefers beer to wine so I'm going to follow your suggestions.

    May I recommend something to you for this blog. I am a dedicated G&T drinker, and as such have tried just about every gin - if money were no object I would always go for Tanquerey, but of course money always IS an object, especially nowadays. After much sampling, I think that Tesco's own label Premier gin is very good indeed. It retails at about £11 for 70cl and is 43%abv. Tesco, like all the big chains does a range of own label spirits, and produce at least three types of gin - you must be sure to get the one called Premier (in a squarish bottle).

  2. Brilliant - thanks herschelian! I haven't tried Tesco's Premier gin but have tried Sainsbury's range and thought Blackfriars wasn't bad. (And there's another, slightly more expensive one whose name I forget which is even better) Own brand spirits are definitely worth trying.

    Incidentally you might like to know Bombay Sapphire is currently selling at £9.99 in Somerfield, cheaper than anywhere else I've spotted!

  3. I was recently in Berger op Zoom in Holland and got to try La Chouffe for the first time. It is a very good beer. A lot sweeter than Leffe Blonde in my opinion, but a good warming beer because of that and the high alcohol content.

  4. How much did you pay for it there, Shey?

  5. Oops -I got the name wrong, it is not called Premier it is called 'Classic No 1'.
    Thanks for the tip about Bombay Sapphire at
    Somerfields, that is a very good deal.