They Brew it, I sell it, You Drink it... and so do I..

Saturday 29 October 2011

Red Or Brown?

Flanders Red Ale or Flemish Brown Ale?? Two styles of beer which can be a little confusing sometimes, (even to us whilst we try to explain which is which) and can quite often be blurred into one as they're usually very similar to each other.

They have their differences though, so I wanted to look into what makes them different, that called for a little dip into Michael Jackson's 'Beer Companion' - the ultimate tome for beer geekery.

He states that;

"The sweet-and-sour character is common to the brown ales of East Flanders and the 'red' of the West, and the two are brother brews, but there are differences between them. One is obviously that the brewers of West Flanders seem traditionally to have used malts that provided a redder colour. Much more significantly, the classics among the redder brew, while having their primary fermentation in metal, are aged in uncoated wood (not casks, but ceiling-high vertical tuns), and this makes for a teasing blend of caramels, tannins and acidity. As the brew matures, lactic acid begins to build up, and there is some interaction with acetobacters in the wood itself. Some of the lesser producers use metal tanks, but add lactic cultures. Unlike the most famous browns, the classic reds are stabilized by pasteurization."

It seems to me that there is a bit of an East-West divide going on in Flanders, with the East making Brown ales (or provision beer) like Liefmans' Goudenband, and the West making the Red Ales like Duchesse de Bourgogne for example. Michael does also go on to say that "There is no acknowledged appellation to identify the style" although the book is getting on in the years now, and this may have possibly changed.

I'd like to take you through a few of the Red Ales we have been stocking at the shop for as long as I can remember, (probably since we opened about 12 years ago) but because of their shelf location, they often get overlooked. This is a massive shame because these three are probably some of the most complex and deeply intriguing beers we sell, and their shunning is something that needs to change. They can be slightly challenging to a first timer, but if you stick with it, you'll be hard pressed to find anything else like it that you can enjoy.

I'm starting out with The Rodenbach classic. It's a 5.2% Red Ale which is produced by blending 3/4 of "young beer" and 1/4 of beer that has matured for over 2 years. It has a distinctive dark red/brown appearance and a very inviting cherry aroma. The first sip and flavour takes you a little by surprise. It's very dry and incredibly moorish and refreshing, with a lot of that sweet and sour-ness that Michael was talking about. It's slightly vinous with a long lightly tart finish. Apparently the slight acidity of the beer suits shellfish dishes and salads, and to be fair, I reckon it would go fantastically with some jumbo king prawns... This would be a perfect beer to start out with if you've never had any Flanders style Red Ales, although it may put a few people off if I said it smelled a little like smelly socks! ( I suppose that will be the Brettanomyces...)

To complicate things a bit more, next comes along Petrus Oud Bruin (Old Brown). It's complicated because, while it may be called Petrus Old Brown Ale, and is rather brown in appearance, it's actually part of the Red Ale family. It smells quite sweet, with notes of candy sugars and caramels. It has a big sweet and sour effect going on, but also has a big drying earthy/woody flavour too. Lots of fruits like cherries and grapes add to the sweetness and it's matched excellently by a big moorish sour dryness from lots of oak.
The beer is apparently aged in the huge 25000l casks "during 20 months". I'm not sure what they mean by 'it's aged during 20 months' though, I'm just going to tell people it's aged for 20 months in wood...

Last but not least is the big daddy, one for the more adventurous; Rodenbach Grand Cru. Pretty damn dark brown, with only slight hints of a red tinge coming through under the lights. This 6% beer is produced using a blend of 1/3rd "young beer" to 2/3rds beer which has been aged for over two years. It truly is a fantastic and amazingly complex beer. It's like Stout meets Gueuze! You get a much bigger slightly sweaty 'horse blanket' Brettanomyces aroma and flavour to this beer, and much more sourness too. Funky cherries, earthy drying wood, vinous, but wine beating complexities, acidic and magnificent. I've put down a few tasting notes here, but in truth this beer is really hard to describe, it's something that really needs to be experienced first hand.

These beers have a reputation. A reputation for being awesome. If you've not tried them before then they are a must for the adventurous beer geek out there.

So in conclusion..... what are you waiting for??

Tuesday 25 October 2011

What Happened To The Big Beer Mats?

Whilst clearing out some old stuff from the attic, I took another nostalgic look at my fathers 10,000 plus beer mat collection, and wondered - "When did beer mats become so boring??"

And no, I wasn't thinking that about any of the beer mats I was rummaging through, I thought it about the common beer mat you find in your modern pub.

Where did the huge beer mats disappear to???

Yes that is a big beer mat, not a tray.

I think beer mats today have lost quite a bit of their fun appeal, and a lot (if not all) have lost all their imagination in design. It seems everybody is content with sticking the logo for their brewery or beer on a mat and mass producing it, without even giving it a single thought. It's too easy these days, and it seems whenever you walk into a pub, you'll have a beer mat from one brewery with it's logo, plastered on every table in the pub. Create something different. Beer mats from just 40 years ago had much more character, and sometimes they weren't even for beer.

More art than bad drink....

The humble beer mat gets a bit of a beating these days. It gets torn into little bits, ripped up, put in empty pint glasses, stacked at the end of the night and thrown straight in the bin. Seriously where's the love? After all the flak that our beloved beer mat gets, the average beer lover would still prefer it's place to be under our pint pots, and not something to be discarded so easily.

Even some of the bigger brewers used to produce really nice looking beer mats, that more often than not, (if your like my dad) you'd take home at the end of the night and not treat it badly.

It wasn't just limited to the alcohol industry either. The tobacco industry saw the image market potential, and came up with some really fun ideas for the beer mat.

I could name over a dozen new breweries with awesome designs for their branding, beers and bottles, but for me I think you have to be a bit more imaginative when it comes to your beer mats. They deserve a little more respect and consideration, after all they've been holding your beer for a lifetime!

Get designing people. And don't make them square....

P.S. I do notice that the pictured bar mats aren't to the highest standard of design to everyone, but I like them. Besides it would have been a very long post if I'd pictured all the mats in the collection which I thought were interesting, design wise...

Sunday 23 October 2011

Epic Black IPA Battle: Kernel vs Kernel vs Kernel

We are currently stocking these three beers.

There has been a bit of talk recently on the blogosphere about Oxymoronic beers recently (see Velky Al's post about the buzz here) and how putting the word 'black' in front of existing beer styles could be a bad thing, a fad, or just plain wrong. I have my own opinions on this subject, but today I'd like to go back to (for me, what is) the source of the Black IPA: the Kernel Brewery.

The first time I ever tried Kernel's first Black IPA, I instantly fell in love with it, and no other Black IPA has been able to measure up to it. We now, however, stock three different Black IPAs from the same brewery, so I thought this would be a good chance to give them a side by side by side tasting and see what's going on.

I'm still 50/50 on some brewers trying to make all their pale beers black, but still pale tasting. It seems to me like a bit of a hark back to when all beer was pretty much black (things go round and round in the world of beer) and quite a few of them get it wrong, which is unfortunate, but this Kernel tasting screams of good times, so how could I object! And while the lightest of the three came in at 6.9%, I was confident it was nothing a sunday roast with all the trimmings couldn't handle.

Coming in at number 1:

Kernel Black IPA, 6.9% - an instant classic in my eyes.

The beer presents itself with aromas of citrus, oranges and mangos. Some dry straw and a little blackberry sweetness. Initially you get a big roasted bitterness and quite a bit of coffee in the body, but it's not as big as some of the other Black IPAs I've tasted, which I think can really spoil a brew. You get a lot of dry pine, apricot fruit and some peppery dryness too. This pepper lends itself to a nice spicy finish which is very long lasting.

I know it goes against my love for this beer, but I don't think it's an Black IPA, it's not close enough to an IPA for my tastes. I do think Kernel has produced a completely new style of beer with this one though, I don't know of any other beers like this.

Black 2 comes in at number 2:

The new recipe for the original.

Now I don't know the details of this brew. I don't know if it will be completely replacing the old one... but for now, thank goodness they've called it something else, and lets hope they continue to call it something else - because it's a completely different beer. I for one hope they make the two black IPAs side by side and don't discontinue any one of them. (yes, I'm looking at you Brewdog.)

You can see instantly on the nose that there's a much bigger dose of fruit to this beer, loads more mango, loads more blackberries - it's a regular fruit cocktail. It's a lot smoother in the mouth feel and with a much bigger fruity/juicy flavour. It's lost pretty much all of the dryness and spiciness and all of the roasted bitterness, except from the tiniest hint of coffee in the back of the mouth. This is a Black IPA in the truest sense of the style. Mangos, lychee and a long bittersweet finish. Is this a preferable beer to the first though? No, because it's completely different to the first.

And then came forth the monster:

Kernel Double Black IPA; a 9.8% leviathan!

This is a DBlack IPA and once again, is completely different to the previous two. If fact this beer is like no other I've ever tried before!

The aroma is incredible, think coffee and thick cream and your on the right track. My main observation though, is that this beer stinks of strawberry and raspberry yogurt! It really does, there's no getting away from it. And it's not a bad thing! It's a bizzar thing! The beer is super smooth, and uber rich. It's almost like a mixed fruit beer; massive amounts of strawberries, raspberries and black currents dominate the initial flavour. As I sit back and enjoy the last of the three beers I've had today, I can't help but think that this beer is like strawberries and cream on a crisp autumnal evening whilst the sun goes down, and your reminded once again that;

Beer is never static, it changes and evolves like everything in our planet, and it's a fascinating evolution, and one I'm very happy to be riding alongside. The boundaries of the Black IPA may still be a little blurred, but at least we're pushing those boundaries. And for beer, (and us) that's fantastic.

Now, in the words of someone else... where's my Pale Schwarzbier!

Oh.... I almost forgot, the first of the bunch still remains my favourite!

Friday 21 October 2011


I got this email today from a shop up in Scotland who have just expanded their range of beers:


(Much like your waist band will be...)
We are always on the look out for great new beers.
Here is a selection of recently acquired new products.
(Click on links below for product details)
ANCHOR Steam (4.8%) £2.15
ANCHOR Liberty Ale (4.8%) £2.35
ANCHOR Porter (5.6%) £2.35

WEIHENSTEPHAN Hefe Weisse (5.4%) £2.65
WEIHENSTEPHAN Kristal Weiss (5.4%) £2.65

ODELL 5 IPA (5.2%) £2.85
ODELL 90 Shilling (5.3%) £2.85
ODELL Cutthroat Porter (4.8%) £2.75

TRAPPISTES Rochefort 10 (5.4%) £2.65
A good cause for celebration when anyone gets in better beers, but it seems they have got the last line rather wrong! Trappistes Rochefort 10? Sounds more like Rochefort 5 at that strength.

I know I can't talk when it comes to typos, I do them all the tyme, but if your trying to promote a new exiting range of beers to people, get the details right.

Tuesday 18 October 2011

Ghostie's Rough Leeds Bars Volume 1.

I suppose it's only fair that, because I did a list of my favourite 10 Leeds bars, that I do a list of some of the bars/pubs in Leeds which are for the clientele with more stones than (me) the rest of us...

First on the list is the Three Legs.

This was the only picture I took. I was a little concerned for my personal property when I finally plucked up the courage to go inside.

An interesting sight was seen when inside. The building itself was very nice. That was the only real nice thing about it really. Groups of people (middle aged men/women, grey & round) propped up the bar whilst shouting at each other whilst standing 10cm away from each other, it was like I just walked onto the set of the Jeremy Kyle show....

I popped myself down on a bar stool (which was broken) and tried to keep my eyes down as I felt everyone else's eyes stare holes through me. There was two hand pumps which looked like they hadn't been used in years - and had nothing on, so my choice of drink was something smooth-flow or of the cider/lager type.

I asked for a half of the first beer I saw; John Smiths smooth. It came in a straight sided tumbler and it was ice cold. I supped as quick as I could; a large group of large gentlemen had turned up behind me and were shouting about the races which were blaring out of the big plasma flat screens.

I didn't dare visit the restrooms, least of all ask for where they were.

I don't think I've left a pub quicker.

In fact it wasn't a nice experience. At all.

I'm not going to entertain this idea. I don't want to visit any other pubs like this.

One and done.

Sunday 16 October 2011

We Grow Our Own Round Here

This is a picture of Headingley Cricket Stadium, about a mile away from where I live. You can see to the left of the photo there is quite a large bush sticking out into the street.

On closer inspection, whilst on my afternoon walk, I discovered that this bush was of this variety:

It's quite impressive that, knowingly or not, the residents of this house have a substantial amount of hops growing in their own back garden! You can also see that the bush/tree/vine (whatever you may call a hop plant) is rather large and is in good health (or it appears to be)

It was really interesting to find these growing right next to the hop plant as well!

Now I don't know who lives here, but I'd like to imagine that whoever it is, is a keen beer and wine maker. Either that, or he's making some sort of beer/wine hybrid. Or he just likes grapes...

Now it's a bit of a shame because these are obviously someone's property - they're no wild hops. I say it's a shame because the first thing I thought of when I saw them was "I wanna put those in a beer!"

It's interesting the things you can find whilst your on an afternoon walk...

Friday 14 October 2011

Brew Number 2, Collaboration - Go!!

I am currently drinking my second collaborative home brew and it looks a little something like this:

This collaboration is a 6.66% amber ale called Poltergeist and was brewed a few weeks back with a good friend of the Ritz and us: Matt Lovatt (or @braukerl as he's twitter bound) - and is tasting pretty damn good! Here's a little look back at how we went about making the beer... I say we, Matt did most of the work:

- The Kit. A pretty much essential mix of containers needed by any keen home brewer. Yes they may look a little like pick-nick equipment, but I assure - they are all very essential indeed.

Here is the specs for the recipe we made up:

Recipe Specs
Batch Size (L):           20.0
Total Grain (kg):         5.975
Total Hops (g):           300.00
Original Gravity (OG):    1.067  (°P): 16.4
Final Gravity (FG):       1.015  (°P): 3.8
The mash - Matt decided
batch sparging would be best.
Colour (SRM):             16.7   (EBC): 32.9
Bitterness (IBU):         77.5   (Average)
Brewhouse Efficiency (%): 69
Boil Time (Minutes):      60

Grain Bill
4.000 kg Maris Otter Malt (66.95%)
1.000 kg Munich I (16.74%)
0.425 kg Invert No. 2 (syrup) (7.11%)
0.200 kg Caramunich I (3.35%)
0.200 kg Carared (3.35%)
0.150 kg Crystal Extra Dark (2.51%)

Hop Bill
20.0 g Warrior Leaf (18% Alpha) @ 60 Minutes (Boil) (1 g/L)
20.0 g NZ Cascade Leaf (10.7% Alpha) @ 35 Minutes (Boil) (1 g/L)
20.0 g Simcoe Leaf (12.2% Alpha) @ 20 Minutes (Boil) (1 g/L)
20.0 g NZ Cascade Leaf (10.7% Alpha) @ 5 Minutes (Boil) (1 g/L)
60.0 g NZ Cascade Leaf (10.7% Alpha) @ 0 Minutes (Aroma) (3 g/L)
80.0 g Simcoe Leaf (12.2% Alpha) @ 0 Minutes (Aroma) (4 g/L)
80.0 g Warrior Leaf (18% Alpha) @ 0 Minutes (Aroma) (4 g/L)

Misc Bill
4.0 g Irish Moss @ 15 Minutes (Boil)

Single step Infusion at 66°C for 60 Minutes.
Fermented at 20°C with WLP001 - California Ale

- This was the Californian Liquid Ale yeast that we used. It needed a starter, hence the interesting looking bottle. To be honest it didn't look like something you'd ever want near your beer! Matt was initially a little worried because it seemed it didn't want to, or ever seem like, it would stop fermenting. Luckily, after a few more days than it should, it managed to settle down enough so that it could go into bottle.

- Beer boiling away nicely... 

We had intended to dry hop the beer in secondary with 100grams of Bramling Cross, but, as nothing is ever simple or certain in brewing - it was decided that this would probably not do the beer any good. For instance; I had intended to make this a brown ale, because I was sick of too many people making crap brown ales, but after looking at the wort samples, it seemed it would be a bit more amber than brown. Oh well... (more on that below)

The steeping part at the end of the boil was new to me. - It looked a little too much like a bomb too. 

Whilst we waited for a massive amount of hops to steep their goodness into the beer the process seemed a whole lot more like cooking a large vat of stew that anything else. (which is never a bad thing!) After that the liquid yeast was, slightly unceremonially, dumped into the beer and all was packed away - content to ferment into the night. It was a fun day for me. A lot of the techniques in brewing that Matt used, I had never even seen before so it was quite educational. While he may have been a little 'down' on his own creation (probably just an effort to not set his hopes too high) the beer itself, which I'm now finishing, couldn't have turned out much better for what we tried to achieve.

Turns out the beer was slightly darker than we expect, and could have stood up to it's Brown Ale name I wanted for it. Oh well, you live and learn.

It has a great aroma with loads of fruit. Mangos, peaches and lychees are all very prominent. The flavour is all about bitter fruits to begin with. Some orange pith and lemon sherbet flavour in the body which makes the bitterness quite lasting - in fact it goes on for quite a while after the swallow. As it warms a little some carmel sweetness starts to show mixed with hints of hazelnuts. It's quite a dry beer and rather moorish - quite dangerous at 6.66%. I gave my friend a sniff and a taste - he said it smelled like a Barley Wine... I'll take it as a compliment.

Overall it's been a great conclusion to a project that's been more than a few weeks in the making. I can't wait to see who I'll get to brew a collaboration beer with next! Hey it could well be Matt again...

Wednesday 12 October 2011

That Time of Year

It's nearly that time of year again - that one night where I get quite a bit done - and I'm not talking about going round to people's houses to ask for chocolates... but until then it seems we have some new seasonal beers kicking about.

Pumpkin beers are a bit of an oddity with me. It's never a beer/beer style I actively seek out, and when I do see one there's usually a bit of um-ing and ah-ing before I make a purchase - if I do at all. I seem to find that I always have a bit of a thought in my head "Pumpkin beer? That's probably not going to be very nice" I then seem to find that pretty much every single one I've ever had has been absolutely amazing - especially the one actually served from an actual giant pumpkin, from Roosters! (and let's not forget about PumKing)

I know why we get the beer as a style - Pumpkins are big in America, they love em - there's millions, and when it comes to harvest time, more than a couple go into beer production. It makes me wonder though: why don't we use any other sort of large vegetable to make beer with? (well to be pedantically technical a pumpkin is a fruit)
It sounds like it wouldn't taste very nice, but why can't we make a marrow beer? That's the point about pumpkin beer for me; it doesn't sound like it will taste very nice - but it does! And why couldn't other variations work? Spicy radish IPA anyone? Aubergine Porter? Carrot Pale Ale? I think the day we say no to trying things like this out is the day we become a little boring.

Saranac Pumpkin Ale comes in at 5%, and was picked up a couple of days ago from North Bar. The aroma is great - vegetal pumpkin, cinnamon, over ripened bananas, and a little of that classic apple and cinnamon, crumbly pie. Very nice texture, quite grainy. There's  a lot of spice to the brew, cloves, cinnamon and vanilla which makes it quite dry, moorish and very easy drinking. More ripe banana sweetness in the body, and it's a tiny bit Belgian like from the spice. A very nice beer - a close call to decide which is better, this or Brooklyn Pumpkin.

Seriously, where's my radish IPA, I'll be round your brewery in just under 20 days if I don't see people being a bit more crazy.....

Tuesday 11 October 2011

More Chocolate & Cherries

I never get sent any beer.

It's probably because I don't ask for any beer. But if someone decides they want to send me some - I'm not going to say no! And it certainly would be rude not to give the beer a review, that's for sure. (that's my opinion anyway - good or bad)

Dunham Massey Brewing Company makes this Chocolate Cherry Mild. And at 3.8% it is mild indeed, with a suitable dark colour, but unusual large carbonation. (It is well bottle conditioned)

The aroma has an unmistakably sweet cherry syrup smell. A little cinnamon and spice as well, mixed with an all around cherry and apple crumble aroma. The body is slightly thin and watery but the flavour is just right. Some coffee and dark malt roasted bitterness, a little marzipan and almond flavour with a slight dairy milk sweetness. The finish is short and sweet with a big (big) cherry flavour, which leaves the mouth dry and wanting more. It's a perfectly acceptable beer, and a really interesting take on a Mild, I usually find Milds a little boring - and this one manages to make an intriguing style and concept. If I was Dunham though, I would try make this into a stout - say about 6/7% with the cherries.

This beer was sent to me by the fine folks at @bob_beer, or Best of British Beer - the online beer shop. They have a really interesting range of British beers, most of which, I'll be honest, I've never heard of before. They also do some really nice seasonal mixed gift boxes, from which this beer was produced. I'd like to thank them then for sending me the beer, which was sent because of my previous post about chocolate and cherry beers.

As I said, I'm not going to be asking for beers, that's not why I got into blogging, but if someone wants to send me some, then it's going to get a review!

Saturday 8 October 2011


I picked up these three in a bar called North a couple of months ago, and decided that I'd have them all in one night! If your lucky they will still have some of these lurking around in North Bar if you want to pick some up for yourself.

De Molen are awesome.

Good for 2 years. First up for the night is the lightest of the bunch (9.2%) - Amarillo - a Imperial IPA dry hopped with Amarillo. (it's also hopped with Saaz - I think they should have called it Saazarillo..) It has an aroma that you wouldn't really find in your expectations of an DIPA. Big aromas of dry Belgian spice, some sweet honeycomb and a lot of sour green apple skins. A truly complex beer for a DIPA. On the first swallow, loads of different things explode, you think sweet honeys and caramels, which changes to drying Belgian spice from the big carbonation. Lots of candy sugar and candy floss mask the big 9.2% very well making this one dangerous beer. It's quite fruity, lots of sweet pineapple and oranges. A soft floral body takes you away to a slight bitterness in the finish.

Good for 5 Years. Next up: Mooi & Meedogenloos (Beautiful & Ruthless) - a 10.2% Belgian strong ale. Premiant and Saaz (again) hops used in this devilishly dark looking beer. Big foamy head which disappears quite quickly after the pour. Aromas consist of bananas, bubble gum and Belgian yeasts mixed with a bit of light toffee and fruitcake. Dry and rich. Hints of roasted malts, not as much Belgian quality as I had thought I'd get - the dark malts really push the body forward through a big carbonation. Earthy coffee and some chocolate sweetness. Dry peppery finish, but no real alcohol presence - these De Molen beers really know how to hide the percentage well! The threesome is really getting into full swing now...

Good for 25 years. The final beer of the night is pretty self explanatory - Hel & Verdoemenis - Hell & Damnation. Quite an apt name for a 10.2% Imperial Stout. (and quite an awesome name too) De Molen are quite well know for making some of the best Imperial Stouts and dark beers on the planet - and this one is no slouch. Pouring as flat and as black as a witches' tit - this is the kind of beer I lust for! Premiant and Hallertau hops dominate the 99IBUs of this beer, but it's the dark malts that really come out of the aroma. Rich coffee, bitter dark chocolate, and dry (not sweet) fruits. Smooth, bittersweet and redonkousely immense! Look up Imperial Stout in the new 'Oxford Companion to Beer' and it should have a picture of this by its side. An incredible flavour - Burnt toast, charred cherries and chocolate, sweet coffee and a touch of vanilla, and that big roasted bitter malty body matched with the awesome alcoholic warming finish that, only the 'King of Beer Styles', can deliver - The Imperial Stout!!

De Molen - Bring It On!!!

Thursday 6 October 2011

Blending. Chocolate and Cherries.

This isn't the first time I've done this, and it wont be the last, but as it seems the days are getting a little colder now it's a good time to try it if you haven't already.

I'm talking of course, about blending beers which compliment each other - flavour wise. Everyone knows chocolate and cherries go really well together, and a few years ago this got me thinking "We sell chocolate beers and cherry beers... what if you blended them together?" It turns out I was not the first person to try this by a long shot, but I gave it a go anyway.

Tonight I'm blending together one of my favourite concoctions: Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout and Mort Subite Kriek.

So after pouring equal measures of each, they were combined into one great smelling beer.

On it's own Mort Subite has a fantastic sweet taste of cherry bakewell tarts, and you may think that this flavour and sweet taste would be absolutely dominated by the power of the 10% Stout. But lo and behold, it's still the Kriek that contributes the most to the flavour once blended.

It's chocolate and cherries in pure beer form - it's perfect! I'd recommend this to anyone who's never tried it before. I would say though, don't use all the bottle contents together, I'd keep a little stout left over to keep adding as the beer goes down, to see if you can see it evolving at all.

Get your fun shoes on!

Sunday 2 October 2011

And We Thought We Had It Bad!

... Well yes we do have it bad, but it seems Scotland has it much worse.

Yesterday (October 1st) a new set of laws were put in place in Scotland which is going to mean big change to retailers big and small, and it's not just beer that's getting the shaft this time (again).

Some of the new rules may sound good, some may sound bad, but you can be sure that, at the end of the day, they're all pointless.

The new rules have been covered in brief by Off Licence News magazine and is as follows:

Multiple purchase:

- No discounts allowed on bulk purchase of cans or bottles that are also sold singly - if a retailer sells one can for £1, it must sell four cans for no less than £4
- If it only sells single cans of 56.8cl, then a retailer can still discount multipacks of 50cl cans
- Extra alcohol supplied free, or at a reduced price, is not allowed, so no BOGOF or three-for-two deals
- Discounting of single bottles or cans is still allowed. Any price change must be made before 10am and must last at least 72 hours.

Online purchase:

- If drinks are dispatched from a warehouse in Scotland, then the new law applies
- Retailers based outside Scotland will still be able to offer by-the-case discounts on delivery to Scottish customers.


- Anything which "promotes, or seeks to promote, the buying of alcohol sold on the premises" can now only be displayed within the store's designated "alcohol display area"
- Window graphics stating that beer, wines and spirits are "sold here" may constitute a promotion in the eyes of individual licensing boards
- Any advertisement that is "solely or primarily" for alcohol is not allowed within 200m of a store
- If a delivery van is displaying a drinks promotion in connection with the premises, then it will not be allowed within 200m boundary of the premises
- Exemptions are in place for promotions over which retailers have no control.

Promotions combining food and alcohol:

- If an alcoholic product is packaged with a non-alcoholic product, such as a wine and cheese gift pack, the new law does not apply, and the price can be discounted
- Meal deals offering alcohol as part of the deal are not banned, but will be at the discretion of licensing boards to decide if in-store advertising of these constitutes irresponsible promotion.

Age verification policy:

- From October 1, retailers must adopt a Challenge 25 age verification policy as a minimum standard. Licence holders are advised to have this policy in writing and available to staff.

Source: The Scottish Government's Guidance for Licensing Boards and the Scottish Grocers' Federation

Well! Bit of a bombshell to say the least. I like the part (that is if it were in place in England) that our delivery van would have to stay 200m away from our shop because it has pictures of beer on the sides! Wow! Great work guys, thanks for making our lives so much easier! I'm really tying not to break into rant mode about this, it would be pointless words really, I'll leave it up to you fine folks to make up your minds about it.

Of course these new laws don't apply to us in England. However if they are seen to 'work' in Scotland by the government (which they probably will) then it could only be a matter of time before they are put in place in England.

All this coupled with the fact that the Scottish government has plans to introduce an extra business rate levy on supermarkets that sell alcohol, in April 2012, can only spell one thing at the end of the day....