Dish of the Day: Ales of the Corner Shop Part One – Pale Ales
There has probably never been a better time in living memory to be a beer lover in London. The relocation of Young’s out of the city created a gap which has been happily filled by a new generation of craft microbreweries. Everywhere you go there is a new flavour, a new concept, a fresh collaboration on offer. However, beyond the realms of the craft ale houses and hipster eateries, most of these beers are still hard to come by.
Luckily though, London is also blessed with some of the best independent corner shops and I’m always struck by the large range of ales they stock – so many in fact, that I often struggle to pick one, instead plumping for the tried and tested strong Polish lager.
Priced largely at £1.99 a bottle they are twice the price of a can of Polish. So, to decide which ones are worth the extra pennies, I decided to taste as many as I could to get a sense of the ales on offer a stone’s throw away from my front door.
Most corner shops stock one of the many German Weissbier brands and I would definitely recommend them. The one stocked by my local is Erdinger Weissbier (5.3% ABV), a bottle-conditioned naturally cloudy pale wheat beer, with pleasant aromas of bananas and cloves. The taste is fruity with hints of spices and a crisp finish.
Verdict: A definite winner (partners perfectly with a hot summer day).
Another great offering was the Brakspear Oxford Gold (4.6%). Pale golden in colour it had a great golden-straw aroma, with notes of caramel and orange peel. Its flavour was one of a slight fruity sweetness followed by big citrus flavours and a dry finish. Very satisfying and one I will definitely get again, and second only to Erdinger. Similar to the gold was Thwaites’ Wainwright (4.1%), a straw-coloured ale which tasted fresh with a crisp finish and full of English hop varieties.
Verdict: Good but not as good as the Oxford Gold.
Badger Golden Glory (4.5%) is widely available, and is a pale orange ale with a strong aroma of peaches. Slightly sweet in taste, it had plenty of bold peach and melon flavours, finishing with a much needed dry edge.
Verdict: Very refreshing in this recent heat.
Again from Badger, I had high hopes for the Blandford Flyer (5.2%), a ginger ale that was rusty orange in its appearance. However, it was far too sweet for my tastes and although I got a slight kick of ginger at the end, it was more akin to Crabbies Ginger beer than a great ginger ale.
Verdict: Stick to the Polish lager.
Two other familiar brands I tried were Young’s London Gold (4.5%) and Marston’s Double Drop (4%). London Gold, the only other bottle-conditioned beer on offer, was a very pale ale with a clean, fresh aroma. For a bottle conditioned beer I was pushed to get any yeast sediment in my drink (despite my best efforts) and I found it somewhat lacking in flavour.
Verdict: Stick to the Polish.
The Double Drop was a rusty-golden pale colour with heavy malt aroma and taste.
Verdict: Worth it if you like malty beers.
So, if you fancy exploring the shelves of your local corner shop, I hope this provides a good starting point and that you discover some beers you’ll drink again and again. Next time I’ll be looking at the dunkels, the bitters, the stouts and the porters to see what’s on offer on the dark side of the shelves.
Follow Rory at @RoryElsome
Tagged in: Brakspear Oxford Gold, Erdinger Weissbier, Pale Ales
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