Booths’ Own

Booths' beers from Lancaster, Ilkley, Tatton, and Hawkshead breweries

Ah, the North. Rolling hills practically on your doorstep, chips and gravy, whippets, affordable rent, and the supermarket chain Booths. For those of you who don’t live near a Booths, they’re similar to Waitrose, but with an even better beer range. I mentioned my local branch when I first discovered it, and since then, each of my lunch dates in Media City have ended with me wombling into the shop and coming home laden with beer and cheese. While I do of course prefer to support independent beer shops such as The Epicurean (on Burton Road, where you’ll occasionally see me helping out behind the counter) and, when I’m in the city centre, The Beermoth, Booths seems to have a dedication to beer which makes me happy to shop with them when I’m in the area. Browsing those shelves, I find so many good beers that my arms hurt after carrying the bags home; a wonderful contrast to most supermarkets, who generally stock two, maybe three beers that I’m happy to drink.

At the moment, Booths are holding their annual beer and cider festival, which runs from 18th June – 15th July. As part of this event, they’ve had four beers brewed especially for them by relatively local breweries, one from each of the counties they have shops in (Cheshire, Cumbria, Lancashire, and Yorkshire), and are holding weekly Twitter tastings of these beers using the hashtag #BoothsCheers.  Despite not getting my act together in time to join in with the hashtag, I thought I’d better give them a go, and so Sunday afternoon saw me nipping into Booths Knutsford on the way over to visit the chap’s folks in Cheshire. Knutsford’s beer selection seemed even more extensive than Media City’s, but I’d arrived at the shop with roughly eight minutes before they closed for the day, so I grabbed my four Booths beers and made my way to the check out. High praise goes to their staff, who are always exceptionally polite and pleasant, even with the shop about to close and queues of people crowding the checkouts.

Hawkshead Black IPA, Tatton Golden Ale, Ilkley Summer Ale, Lancaster Lemongrass Ale bottles

As for the beers… Well, I enjoyed the Hawkshead BIPA (5.6%), and Tatton Golden Ale (4.5%) had a decent depth to it, but Ilkley Summer Ale (4%) and Lancaster Lemongrass Ale (also 4%) didn’t quite do it for me. Don’t get me wrong, they were nice, well made, did what they said on the label, but I just wasn’t that into them. Personal preferences aside, I do think that it’s important to praise a supermarket for caring about the range of good beer they offer. Booths have been using Twitter to get people involved in what they are drinking, sparking discussions about flavour, asking for food pairing suggestions, and even posting Tweets about the brewing process. Often, good beer is merely paid lip service by supermarkets as it’s not as widely popular as mass produced, stack-’em-high knock-’em-back mainstream lagers, so it’s great to see a retailer working with local breweries and getting their customers to really engage with the outcome. Beer is a wonderful thing, and to see a supermarket not only curating a thoughtful selection, but actively celebrating it, makes me very happy. I’m looking forward to my next visit to Booths, and the prospect of coming home with bags full of bottles – and of course, some cheeses to pair them with.

Booths and Hawkshead Black IPA, 5.6%, local craft ale

There have been a couple of other recent blog posts about Booths from local beer bloggers: Connor of Beer Battered visited as part of his supermarket ale trail, and Jim from Beers Manchester also took a trip over to Media City.

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