Marks & Spencer have put some thought into developing their own-label beer range. Here are three bottles from the line-up. They’re quite smart beers: not serious hardcore craft material, but considering their customers, they are a bit more edgy than they needed to have been, which is a good thing. These are the sort of beers I am happy to drink if I lack a more serious option, but I won’t be making a detour to find them. I hope this doesn’t seem harsh. They’re really quite good. OK I will be quiet now.
M&S Welsh Golden Ale Brains Brewery Cardiff
Made with challenger hops, late hopped with Cascade and Styrian Golding. Slightly savoury style , with the bitter hops just about winning out over the subtle malty notes. Midweight with some herbiness and hints of spice. There’s some complexity here. 7/10
M&S Greenwich Black IPA
From the Meantime brewery. Beer writer Roger Protz describes this style of beer thus: ‘Black IPA is absurd and an insult to history.’ I disagree. Let the beer talk. It’s made using 7 dark malts, and a combination of English and American hops. Dark, malty and chocolatey with some bitter dark chocolate notes, some herbs and a complex savouriness. Distinctive and attractive. 7/10
M&S Organic Scottish Heather Honey Beer
Made by the Black Isle Brewery, this is organic. A blond beer brewed with heather honey. Sweetly honeyed with some herbiness and subtle malty notes. Pale coloured with some spiciness. The honey influence is quite subtle adding a bit of sweetness. Normally, I’m not a fan of beer with flavourings, but this seems to work well, 7.5/10