Monday, 31 August 2009

Cheapie bottled bitter

As is well known, I spare no expense in bringing you reviews of the rarest beers imaginable. Today I have something special — cheapie bitter. Marston's Burton Bitter and Brakspear Bitter are both going for £1 a bottle at the moment. Why not put them up head to head and see how they compare?

Marston's, of course, now own Brakspears since they took over Refresh UK. Cynics suspect such beers are both made in the same brewery and they slap a different label on it at the end. This is not the case. They are similar in style, but not identical. Brakspear is actually brewed at Wychwood using the original Brakspear equipment rescued from the old brewery in Henley when it closed.

On opening the bottles, both smell quite similar. The Marston's has more sulphur, and the Brakspear's is more toffeeish.

Pouring them into a glass, they have almost the same attractive autumn-leaves colour.

Brakspear's bitter has a well balanced nose, little body, but that's only to be expected in a beer of this strength, but the hops balance it out to give one of those delightful hard-water, dry finishes.

Burton Bitter has a ghost of malt to begin with, and less hop flavour.
It comes out on top purely due to the delicious water used in making it. I hear that Marston's did actually consider marketing their well water as mineral water, but the idea never came to fruition because of lack of production capacity.

These are both well made, unchallenging beers. You could do a lot worse for a quid. On the other hand, spend less than two quid and you could get something much more interesting. I do love that hard, minerally water though.

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