Beer

ale, lager, stout, porter, mild, barley wine – the list is almost endless!

Innis & Gunn Winter Treacle Porter

Dougal Sharp, CEO of Innis & Gunn, was inspired to dig up the old Scottish tradition of spiking porter with treacle when he came across a reference to the practice and a 100 year old recipe in the Scottish drinks history book, A Scot’s Cellar, by Florence Marion McNeill. And so he did it, and it’s worked incredibly well.

7.4%; available from Sainsbury’s and Booths; £2.50/330ml; also from the online Innis and Gunn shop; £27/12x330ml  

Chiltern Brewery Glad Tidings Winter Stout

Brewed with four malts - Maris Otter, Crystal, Chocolate, Roast Barley - and two spices - coriander and nutmeg and a little fruit in the form of some orange peel, this spiced milk-stout-style beer is a truly complex beast.

And at 4.6% it is not too high in alcohol.

£2.75/500ml; 4.6%; Available through the Brewery Shop, online and also local independent Budgens Stores, Wendover and Bedgrove and other selected stockists - 

Shepherd Neame Christmas Ale

A rounded caramelised nose sets the tone for this festive amber ale. Winter fruit overtones upfront include dates and cooked apples, alongside spicy hops. More spice on the palate with vanilla and more of those dried fruits reminding us it’s nearly Christmas time.

7%; RRP: £2, Morrisons, other selected supermarkets & independents, and from the Shepherd Neame online shop

Caledonian Flying Scotsman Premium Bitter

We're in traditional bitter territory with this offering from Caledonian – there’s not a flashy hop in sight. And that’s certainly not a slight. An assuringly traditional nose includes some roasted/toasted notes of nuts and coffee and caramel, all rounded together beautifully.

An appealing dark copper in colour, this ale has a clean finish and leaves you thinking of hazelnuts.

 £14.99/8x500ml; 4%; available at Morrisons, Sainsburys in Scotland, and from the Caledonian Beer website  

St Austell Trelawny

This ale has an interesting hops tale to boot. It might not say it on the packaging quite yet but one of the hop varieties to make it into the bottle is Endeavour – the spicy, citrusy newcomer to the British hops scene, so far only grown in one place (Stocks Farm in Worcestershire). 

As brewing director at St Austell, Roger Ryman, points out, the full hop list for Trelawny is Goldings, Progress, Endeavour and Galaxy. However, as supply of Endeavour is limited to date, the proportion is quite low.

Sambrook’s Wandle Ale

There are bags of citrusy hops up front with this very quaffable amber ale, along with a good malty backbone that makes it a good food match. It boasts toasted nuts on the nose, lots of depth to follow and a seriously clean finish.

As English as they come, this brew from Battersea has unsurprisingly garnered a fair few supporters since its inception - as Sambrook’s inaugural beer - in November 2008.

£25.50/12x500ml; 4.2%; available from various stockists nationwide, and from the Sambrooks online shop  

Shepherd Neame Spooks Ale


As the witching hour on All Hallows Eve approaches and the wind whips up a storm outside, what better time to taste test Shepherd Neame's Spooks Ale?

Modestly titled The Official Ghost Brew for All Hallows with the warning Drink if you Dare writ large, this is as enjoyable as it is fun. Made from three different malts, the reddish hued palate is balanced with a light citrus lift.

Available: over 40 Shepherd Neame pubs; 4.7%, 50cl, c. £2, Asda, Morrisons, Shepherd Neame online shop