You’ve Got To Be In It to Win It

Some British beers from Dark Star, Thornbridge et al.

Your beer might be the best in the world but that counts for nothing if no-one gets the opportunity to buy it.

There are always interesting nuggets arising from the now annual Golden Pints event whereby (mostly UK-based) beer bloggers name their beers and bars of the year. This year, what leapt out at us were repeated mentions for the Citra pale ale Oakham Ales brew exclusively for supermarket Marks & Spencer.

Citra is a great beer, but is it really better than many other similar citrus-hoppy golden ales on the market? Or just more readily available?

There are beers we thought about nominating ourselves but couldn’t because we’d only had one pint or bottle. Ideally, we have to feel we’ve got to know any beer we’re going to name as a Golden Pint, which automatically precludes many one-offs and obscurities.

We don’t know how much money Oakham make from selling beer to and through M&S, or whether there’s any profit for Brewdog in the Punk IPA sold in Tesco for next to nothing, but, even if it didn’t bring in a penny, it would be worth doing as an exercise in promoting ‘brand awareness’.

Eno Sarris at Beergraphs said the following in a recent post about how beer ratings relate to sales:

What the top beers to have, though, are great distribution. And that’s not a brain-buster, but it’s fun to see it here: to sell a lot of beers, you have to be in a lot of places.

We’d say there’s a sweet spot between mass-market volume production and complete obscurity where sales beget ratings beget sales.

5 thoughts on “You’ve Got To Be In It to Win It”

  1. Just to point out that there is a difference between the Oakham Citra (4.2% ABV) and the Citra IPA (4.9%) brewed by Oakham for M&S. There is a slight difference in the recipe, more hops are added to the Oakham Citra while the M&S version is slightly stronger. I’ve tried them back to back a couple of times and find the Citra more flavoursome than the Citra IPA. Both are good beers though! Cheers

    1. Both have done well in golden pints nominations, but the M&S one particularly caught our eye because it’s an ‘own-brand’ supermarket beer. Not often they win plaudits.

  2. I agree on the Golden Pints front point on trying to choose beers that you’ve tried more than a bottle or sampler of. Not a lot of point in putting a list out there, of beers that are almost impossible for you, the writer to find again never mind the reader, other than perhaps to say “look I’ve had this”.

    I’ve not managed to pick up a bottle of M&S Citra yet, sounds like I should?

    1. To me it’s a record of experience – I had Batham’s Bitter for the first time this year, and if it had been the best pint I’d had all year (and if I was doing a Golden Pints post) I would be writing about it, despite how localised it is. Spingo Middle, same thing. I agree that it can get tiresome, though – if I ever taste Westvleteren I hope it’s not my beer of the year, because that really would look like bragging.

      I’ve only had the M&S Citra IPA once, and I’m actually not too fussed about buying it again – it’s rather pricey for a supermarket bottle. But I’d still put it down as my (UK) bottle of the year – I haven’t drunk many beers that made such a strong impression on me so quickly.

      1. currently on 3 for £6. Considering it is a Pint (568ml) bottle, it is only £1.76 for 500ml, so it’s not that expensive.

        Picked up a bottle with the Adnams Winter IPA (Relabeled Adnams Innovation,Very good) and the Meantime Black IPA (Also good)

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