Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Product Review: Beer52

How much is your integrity worth? I had cause to find out the value of my own recently when I received a nice email from from a company called Beer52. Eight bottles of beer, that's my price. In my defence I should say that since I started flinging these gobbets of screed into the electro-ether I have not exactly been inundated with offers of free stuff, and those that have arrived have been easy to turn down on account of falling into either the "weird" or "crap" categories. The offer of 8 actual bottles of booze in exchange for a few words seemed more than fair, although I did wonder how I'd live with myself if the beer wasn't up to snuff. What a relief all round then, as I can in fact report that Beer52 are doing a cracking job, both in terms of the service they provide and the beers they dish up. Plus, I've got a money-off code for you to have a bash at, of which more later.

Beer52 joins an ever-proliferating list of companies offering a "surprise!" subscription-type service. Such enterprises seem to operate on a couple of assumptions. Firstly, we all love getting stuff in the post that isn't a bill. No argument there. Second, we're all far too busy to go and buy things for ourselves, and so knackered from being busy that once we got to the relevant retailer we're in no fit state to decide what we want. Far better to let someone else do all the thinking and legwork for you, right? Right.

For £24 per month they'll send you 8 bottles of beer. The more mathematically inclined among you will have noted that this works out at £3 a bottle to your door, including postage. This, I reckon, is reasonable. You'll pay about that much for a bottle of most of the beers stocked by, for example, Glug in Newcastle. Which is a clue to the type of brews that Beer52 are slinging. This isn't no bog standard beer. This is craft beer.

Anyway, enough of the intro waffle, what beers were in the box and how were they? My delivery (very sensibly left with a neighbour, thus saving a trip to the post depot) arrived only a couple of days after I gave them my address. Hurrah! On opening, there was a pleasing variety of both styles and regions. I was also quite chuffed to find that I'd never drunk any of what I had in front of me before.

"Amerikaans" by Dutch brewer De Molen was some great stuff; balanced orangey bitterness, a bit of caramel and a just a touch of yeasty funk. It would be very easy to see the back of a number of these.

Next up, a white IPA from London Fields. This was seriously great. Reminiscent of the banana flavours and cloudy appearance of  Hoegaarden, although a shit-load more complex than that Belgian favourite. There was a lot going on here. Perfect if you're just planning on having the one.

I'm not one for lager, but "Sunburst", a Czech style pilsner from Scottish brewery Inveralmond was nice; clean as a whistle, fantastic fine bubbles and with just enough hoppiness to render it more interesting than your standard fizz. The remainder of the box was consumed in one (quite lengthy and very enjoyable) sitting, over the course of a Saturday afternoon spent with friends.

If you like a variety of beer styles, have an interest in the whole craft beer thing and like getting stuff in the post, Beer52 is for you. The website is easy to navigate and allows you to buy more of anything you particularly enjoyed. Each box comes with Beer52's magazine "Ferment", which, while a bit light on chat about brewing methods and styles, and a bit heavy on pictures of beard-sporting hipster types, is nonetheless a diverting and interesting read. And - BONUS! - if you go to Beer52.com and enter the code "PATCHY", they'll give you a tenner off your first case. If enough people do this, I may be in for more free beer, so get to it! Cheers.

As I think I've made pretty clear Beer52 sent me the above bottles gratis. Whether them doing so rendered me incapable of being objective about their quality is up to you to decide.

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