Chris Hall reviews Sainbury’s Taste the Difference IPA
Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference IPA
Supermarket own-branded bottle beers can be a hit and miss affair. Occasionally you come across an absolute corker, and other times you realise you should have just shelled out that extra fifty pence. I am happy to report that Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference IPA is one of the former. Sainsbury’s didn’t beat around the bush when it came to finding the people to contract-brew their IPA, they went straight to Marston’s, makers of one of the seminal beers in the style, Old Empire.
The label is a very modern sort of affair, but certainly bears the distinguishing flourishes of something of quality. It pours a rich amber colour with a thick, long-lasting head. The alcoholic strength of the brew would normally mean a feisty aroma, but here the beer falls a little short of the mark, with just a pinch of citrus, and a soft, toffee smell that doesn’t promise much.
You won’t be wondering where the strength of the beer is once you’ve had a sip, though. Thick, syrupy malt coats the tongue slowly and steadily, buzzing on the taste buds through the beer’s lively carbonation. The texture develops, unfurling spicy notes of black pepper and rich, jammy flavours. Through all of this, Marston’s have woven a big-bodied booziness that, whilst normally unpleasant in lager, is perfectly embedded into this ale’s rich, spicy character. It’s a big, ballsy effort that puts all its cards on the table in one big flourish.
Unfortunately, that’s what lets this beer down. Whilst it is a great example of an IPA brewed to a historic recipe, it lacks the stamina to stay amazing. After those first few gulps, it can never best its opening gambit, and the boozey spine to the body becomes a little wearisome.
Despite this, I wholeheartedly recommend Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference IPA, because it of its brashness, its audacity, and its character. It does not pander to the increasing trend for C-Hop loaded tropical flavour-bombs. It has buckets of flavour and it likes to throw its weight about, but it just lacks that finesse to make it extraordinary.