Sainsbury’s Great British Beer Hunt 2012 – Top Ten

Beer Review

So finally, we reach the top 10 – it was a close race as you can see, with only 2 points covering the top five places. As before, when beers have the same total score, those with a higher flavour (and then aroma) flavour are ranked higher.

As you can see, I seem to disagree quite seriously with the Sainsbury’s judges as none of my top three even made it into the final!

10th – Indian Summer by Elgood & Sons (4.8% ABV)


Appearance: 4.0; Aroma: 5.0; Mouthfeel: 4.0; Flavour: 6.5; Total 19.5

Rich golden colour, with a generous but fleeting head. A curious aroma, green hop leaf, a hint of apple and some toffee sweetness. A rich maltiness to the flavour, giving an almost creamy feel in the mouth. There’s some bitterness lurking in the background but it never makes itself really felt. Curious and unusual.

9th – Horizon by Wadworth (4.0% ABV)


Appearance: 4.0; Aroma: 6.5; Mouthfeel: 4.0; Flavour: 5.5; Total 20.0

Pale gold, with a thin head. It has a big floral grapefruit hop nose, with just a hint of biscuit. A nice mouthful of bubbles, with a lot of initial sweetness which is quickly taken over by a slightly uncontrolled hop bitterness. A little unbalanced, but nice.

8th – Ivanhoe by Ridgeway Brewing Company (5.2% ABV)


Appearance: 4.0; Aroma: 6.0; Mouthfeel: 4.0; Flavour: 6.5; Total 20.5

A pale copper, with a generous head. The nose is gentle, with earthy hops and berries. The taste starts with a slightly toffee sweetness which is quickly and nicely balanced by a lingering hop bitterness. Nice and tasty classical Best Bitter.

7th – Willy Nilly by S. A.Brain (4.0% ABV)


Appearance: 4.5; Aroma: 6.0; Mouthfeel: 4.0; Flavour: 6.5; Total 21.0

A lovely looking red ale, with a fine textured head. It has a gentle malt nose, with a hint of hop fruit. It’s a little fizzy, but delicious – sweet, autumn fruits and a subtle balancing bitterness. A very drinkable session beer.

6th – Wild Hop Gold by Harviestoun (4.4% ABV)


Appearance: 3.5; Aroma: 6.5; Mouthfeel: 4.0; Flavour: 7.0; Total 21.0

Pale gold, with big bubbles and a fleeting head. Sweet fruit nose, with citrus orange and tropical fruits that puts me in mind of Opal Fruits (or, if you’re under 30, Starburst). Light and fresh in the mouth – a sweet and fruity start, with a big and growing hop bitterness coming through which leads into a lingering citrus hop filled finish. Overall a nice hoppy pale ale, but perhaps that bitterness is a touch overdone at the end.

5th – Screech Owl by Castle Rock (5.5% ABV)


Appearance: 3.5; Aroma: 6.5; Mouthfeel: 4.5; Flavour: 7.0; Total 21.5

Lots of rising bubbles in a nicely rich gold coloured beer with a deep lingering head. The nose is sweet, with just a hint of alochol and some nice floral hops. The flavour starts with lots of rich honey sweetness followed by a growing, almost aggressive resinous hop bitterness. It’s a little on the sticky side, but delicious.

4th – Manchester Star Ale by J.W. Lees (7.3% ABV)


Appearance: 4.5; Aroma: 6.0; Mouthfeel: 4.0; Flavour: 7.5; Total 22.0

Almost jet black in the glass, with a thin tan foam on top. A rich and sweet aroma with dried fruit, but it’s understated. Sweet and similarly subtle at first in the mouth, but with building black cherry fruit and molasses. An alcohol heat then comes in, along with a coffee like bitterness. Wonderful and complex.

3rd – Pumphouse Pale Ale by Sambrooks (4.2% ABV)


Appearance: 4.0; Aroma: 6.0; Mouthfeel: 4.5; Flavour: 7.5; Total 22.0

Pale golden with a generous head and huge rising bubbles. A light and subtle slightly earthy hop aroma. Lovely texture in the mouth, not as overfizzed as the bubbles suggest it may be. Sweet, slightly fruity start with a slow, building hop bitterness that gives a great finish and balances out that initial sweetness perfectly. A very enjoyable pale ale.

2nd – Double Espresso Premio Caffe Birra by Traditional Scottish Ales (6.0% ABV)


Appearance: 4.5; Aroma: 7.0; Mouthfeel: 3.5; Flavour: 7.5; Total 22.5

Jet black in the glass with a thin, fine tan head. Nose is full of freshly brewed espresso, with undertones of dark fruit and black treacle. A lighter and more bubble-filled body than I’m expecting from that nose – lots of coffee flavours, more of that dried fruit and a delicious bitter coffee finish. Delicious!

1st – Wojtek by Beartown (5.5% ABV)


Appearance: 4.5; Aroma: 7.0; Mouthfeel: 4.5; Flavour: 7.5; Total 23.5

Golden beer with a deep and open head. Lovely nose, with sharp citrus flowers and hints of honey. A decent body, with deliciously complex flavours – honey, peaches, melon and a slowly but steadily building hop resin. Unexpected and special, and a worthy winner.


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