Getting to Know All About You

Adnam's Jack Brand Innovation IPA.

In the last year or two, we’ve started doing something quite new for us: ordering entire cases of the same beer.

Many beers have a superficial glamour on first tasting, or if enjoyed only occasionally, but when you have twelve, eighteen or twenty-four bottles to drink, you get beyond all that. If the tenth bottle tastes as good as the first, then you know you’ve got a keeper.

We were, for example, gushingly impressed with Adnams’ Jack Brand Innovation, a 6.7% American-inspired India Pale Ale, when we first tried it: a sweet orange liqueur, caramel toffee, ripe mango character made it seem bright and exciting. As we near the end of the case, however, that enthusiasm has waned. It’s still a perfectly decent beer, but one-dimensional and a little sickly, like a big bag of Haribo.

Twenty-four cans of the same brewery’s Ghost Ship, however, proved to be an excellent investment. Pilsner-pale, with a hard bitterness and big herbal hop aroma, it gave us much of what we enjoy in Brewdog Punk IPA but at 4.5% ABV instead of 5.9% — much better for school nights and long sessions. It’s also great value, even in dinky little 440ml cans, and perfect for throwing into rucksacks and handbags for parties and train journeys.

Two other cases we ordered, we must confess, mostly so that we could reuse the easy-to-clean bottles for home brewing.

Hopf Helle Weisse (5.3%) is as pale as Erdinger but tastes much better, with a dab of acid making it a full fruit salad (pineapple and pear) rather than a muddy, one-trick banana Angel Delight. We drank the last bottle this week and would happily buy another case.

Finally, there were 20 bottles of Schlenkerla Helles Lagerbier (4.3%) — not actually made with smoked malt but in a thoroughly smoked Bamberg brewery, which adds a subtle autumnal bonfire aroma. Even though they’d travelled a way, and were pretty near bang on their best before, that extra layer of flavour from the smoke made them taste fresh (interesting) even if they weren’t fresh (in peak condition). Better than bottled Pilsner Urquell from Tesco? Maybe.

Does anyone have any suggestions for beers that are good value by the case and will retain their appeal over the course of a long-term relationship?

24 X 440ml cans Ghost Ship cost us £26.99; 12 x 330ml bottles of Adnams’ Jack Brand Innovation cost £18.99; delivery was free through their online store. We ordered the Hopf and Schlenkerla Helles through Beermerchants.com but have misplaced the receipt; they’re currently £2.23 and £2.85 a bottle with a case discount, plus delivery, which sounds about right.

7 thoughts on “Getting to Know All About You”

  1. I do often think people are far too eager to make judgments on beers based on one pint or bottle. You have to drink a few (not all at the same time) to understand it properly.

    1. Lay in a 2-4 of Worthington White Shield, or a 12 if that is the case limit. Given the bottle-conditioning, it’s built to last and the changes over time will be interesting, whereas anything filtered or pasteurized is really a downward slide no matter where you start.

      Gary

  2. I didn’t like Ghost Ship at all ! I really cant abide Citra though. I reckon the Emperor is naked on that count.

    Innovation was ok. Been chewing through the Bitter and Broadside. Classics for a reason.

  3. If you are feeling speculative have a look at the cases on Noble Green Wines website. Prices not bad and free delivery if you spend over £75. Used them myself more than once.

  4. Fullers Vintage Ales from the brewery website online shop. Not the best vintages but still damn good. 4 different vintages to be ticking along with and not to be sneezed at at 3 quid a bottle.

    Price: £36.00
    12 x 500ml bottles
    ABV 8.5%
    4.3 Units
    Contains Malted Barley
    Please note: Vintage Ale is a bottle conditioned beer and whilst we are legally obliged to give each bottle only a three year shelf life, we believe these beers can be enjoyed for well beyond this time
    Please be aware that unlike other limited edition cases, these ales are not presented in individual gift boxes and some of the labels on the bottles are damaged.
    £7.95 delivery charged once per order
    Each of these limited edition cases of Vintage Ale contains 3 bottles of 2005, 2009, 2011 and 2012. Please be aware that unlike other Vintage Ale cases, these vintages are not presented in individual gift boxes and some of the labels on the bottles are damaged.

  5. You could do worse than trying anything by Williams Brothers, particular favourites of mine being the 80/- and the Red. Reasonable price and always good quality.
    Thanks for an entertaining blog, by the way. It’s because of you I found St Austell’s fabulous 1913 stout – my beer of the year so far, and probably another to get by the case.

  6. To truly understand how wonderful Carling is, you have to drink a slab a week for around 2 years. Anything less and you don’t appreciate it.

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