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Great Britain Supermarket Choice

Discussion in 'Europe' started by Zimbo, Aug 28, 2012.

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  1. Zimbo

    Zimbo Initiate (0) Aug 7, 2010 United Kingdom (Scotland)

    Is there a consensus among UK BAs as to which supermarket has the best beer range? Just curious as to what everyone has to say. And some evidence too folks.
  2. Dennoman

    Dennoman Initiate (0) Aug 20, 2011 Belgium

    Would be handy for my travels in October as well, would love to see a few suggestions!
  3. Zimbo

    Zimbo Initiate (0) Aug 7, 2010 United Kingdom (Scotland)

    I'm sort of partial to Waitrose myself as it has a pretty well selected range of quality UK beers. That being said M & S gets a lot of love here but I remain to be convinced.
  4. Dennoman

    Dennoman Initiate (0) Aug 20, 2011 Belgium

    My mate who recently moved to London and who I'll be staying with, told me I'd probably cream myself when I go into his local Sainsbury's.
  5. Zimbo

    Zimbo Initiate (0) Aug 7, 2010 United Kingdom (Scotland)

    Oh my. Better also pick up a pack of pants when you're there then.
    Sainsbury's has a decent range but what strikes me is how much beer choice parity there seems to be between UK supermarkets.
  6. shyhenry

    shyhenry Initiate (158) Oct 11, 2010 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    It's a bit difficult to answer as there can be such great variability in the beers available at stores from the same chain. With that being said, my local Waitrose blows all other supermarkets in the area out of the water. If you want to go more upmarket, Whole Foods has a very strong selection (Kernel etc.).
  7. paxton1978

    paxton1978 Initiate (0) Aug 8, 2008 United Kingdom (England)

    I have to say that I do love M&S, but then my local Tesco has a MASSIVE range... oh, but then Sainsburys.... I honestly think there is no right answer and totally agree with shyhenry on variable levels of availability. It's like choosing which one of your kids you love the most. (In this metaphor, Morrison's is the ginger stepchild- it's fine to hate it)
  8. Zimbo

    Zimbo Initiate (0) Aug 7, 2010 United Kingdom (Scotland)

    That Morrison's metaphor... (yes yes yes yes yes YES) that, was a goal.
  9. jazzyjeff13

    jazzyjeff13 Poo-Bah (3,102) Nov 6, 2010 United Kingdom (England)

    Interesting question. The short answer is that all of the big supermarkets have upped their game in the last year or so, and any of them has a decent range of UK beers. Availability of good foreign brews is a bit more patchy.

    Longer answer follows: I judge it on what I consider to be the availability of smaller breweries or unusual beers (this is obviously somewhat subjective, and may differ by location). When I started getting into beer a few years ago, I began to pay more attention to what was on the shelves at the supermarkets I frequented. ASDA was the shop that stood out for having a wider range of local brews in addition to the ales that you can find everywhere. I also thought that Morrisons had a larger range than average (and still does). The range as Tesco and Sainsbury's was more pedestrian by comparison. In the last 12 - 18 months, this has changed as both Tesco and Sainbury's have carried out major revamps of their beer aisles. Tesco has expanded its ale range greatly and have an improved selection of 'good' foreign beers (along with plenty of dross). Sainsbury's is perhaps less adventurous, but still has interesting brews (they have a contract with Brewdog, and some interesting Meantime beers among others). I only started visiting Waitrose in the last 18 months (they are a bit less common), and they also have an excellent stock of UK brews and some foreign stuff (prices are higher though).

    In summary: the difference between the major shops has reduced; to the extent that I wouldn't like to state that any one of them wins over the others. They all have good beer (and bad). Though I would note that ASDA still seems to beat the others for its commitment to stocking smaller local breweries. Ultimately, this may all be moot as you are most likely to look for beer at the shop nearest to you. I'm lucky in that I can visit all the the stores named above without major difficulties.

    A tip for visitors to the UK - it's the big supermarket branches that have good beer ranges. Small ones don't cut it.

    Secret bonus tip: Actually, there is a winner in the supermarket beer stakes - Booths. Their beer offerings are peerless. However, this is only relevant if you can find one near you (Northwest sector of England).

    Happy hunting folks.....
  10. jmw

    jmw Initiate (0) Feb 4, 2009 North Carolina

    Being a moving man Zimbo, do you notice parity between what you can find in Scotland in general v. other (lower) parts of the UK?

    This bodes well for our next trip in the coming year. Last visit was in '10 or so. I'll hold you to this Jeff.
    And I can quite identify with local availability. It's a mighty haul to go the two hours out of this state to greener beer pastures--what we have available is akin to a wilderness outpost (although with amazingly fresh Sierra Nevada products sometimes). Being able to access more than one or two decent shops is something the children dream of around Christmas.
  11. Zimbo

    Zimbo Initiate (0) Aug 7, 2010 United Kingdom (Scotland)

  12. reprob8

    reprob8 Initiate (94) May 22, 2008 United Kingdom (England)

    Booths, no contest
  13. Aye

    Aye Aspirant (239) Jul 21, 2011 United Kingdom (England)

    Yeah Booths rocks. I would have say that our local Morrisons beats the local Asda's beer selection hands down. They're both big stores, sadly the small Sainsburys that have popped up here over the last few years and all but the biggest Tescos have a woeful selection. Bigger Waitroses have an ok selection.
  14. Zimbo

    Zimbo Initiate (0) Aug 7, 2010 United Kingdom (Scotland)

    My local Asda is now the second supermarket in my area to carry canned 4 packs of Gold Label. Do I detect a slight surge in popularity by any chance?
  15. jazzyjeff13

    jazzyjeff13 Poo-Bah (3,102) Nov 6, 2010 United Kingdom (England)

    Depends how hard you've been lobbying them :wink:
  16. Robert_N

    Robert_N Initiate (0) Apr 10, 2012 United Kingdom (Wales)

    Are there many independent specialist retailers where you guys live?
  17. Zimbo

    Zimbo Initiate (0) Aug 7, 2010 United Kingdom (Scotland)

    Yep , there are a few and what they offer is much better. Course depends on what you consider to be local. The best is about a half hour away.
  18. Robert_N

    Robert_N Initiate (0) Apr 10, 2012 United Kingdom (Wales)

    Anyone remember when they sold flying dog in Tesco? Got the Gonzo Imperial Porter from there once.
    I also find it had to let go of the time when asda had Sierra Nevada Pale ale at 64p a bottle but I was skint at the time so could not stock up on cases of the stuff.
    Sainsburys is good but I don't find much variation between regions, here as tesco seem to get more local stuff in
    Waitrose is the best in my opinion.
  19. jazzyjeff13

    jazzyjeff13 Poo-Bah (3,102) Nov 6, 2010 United Kingdom (England)

    Yup, York has a couple of great beer shops. Trembling Madness seems to have new stuff every week....

    And yes, I remember when Tesco had FD :slight_smile: I grabbed a bunch of Gonzo when they were selling it off - superb! I might still have one stashed somewhere....
  20. Hanglow

    Hanglow Defender (682) Feb 18, 2012 United Kingdom (Scotland)

    I can only think of the Cave in glasgow for an independent offy. They have a very small and expensive but nice selection. Otherwise, it's Peckhams, Whole Foods, Waitrose, and the other supermarkets for a decent selection of beers. Unless anyone knows of any other independant ones? M&S have a shocking selection here

    Sometimes the likes of the really cheap shops like Lidl/Aldi/Home Bargains have great deals and some different beers - Lidl gets a few acceptable belgians, a blonde one like Duvel but half the price (that I forget the name of). Same bottle shape too. Otherwise all they seem to stock are the likes of Shepherd Neame's rather uninspiring ales
  21. paxton1978

    paxton1978 Initiate (0) Aug 8, 2008 United Kingdom (England)

    Tesco are back to 4 for a fiver! I got Old Tom, Broadside, Double IPA and an Old Growler for £1.25 a bottle- now that's magic!
  22. Hoppsbabo

    Hoppsbabo Champion (810) Jan 29, 2012 United Kingdom (England)

    In Peterborough it's Tesco and Morrisons. Our M&S selecton is a joke.
  23. Hoppsbabo

    Hoppsbabo Champion (810) Jan 29, 2012 United Kingdom (England)

    And Peterborough Sainsburys is a bit shite.
  24. reprob8

    reprob8 Initiate (94) May 22, 2008 United Kingdom (England)

    there's one not too far away in Saltaire currently a couple of hundred beers with plans to increase to at least 500. Beer ranges from Brooklyn Local No1 to so so Polish Lages
  25. Robert_N

    Robert_N Initiate (0) Apr 10, 2012 United Kingdom (Wales)

    I was only asking as I work in an Indy, just seeing what else is out there as quite a lot of them don't have a web presence. I am impressed but slightly concerned by anywhere that can stock 500 beers though, especially if beer is the only product.
  26. fuseboy

    fuseboy Initiate (0) Feb 28, 2011 United Kingdom (England)

    You sure these went through correctly? Because I ended up paying £7 for 4 beers I thought were on offer - which I'm gonna double check today.

    Sometimes their offers are a bit misleading or incorrectly signed. Going by their website Old Tom and Double IPA aren't on the offer - but different stores may be including different beers.
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