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    Friday, 25 January 2008

    Sainsburys Introduce Beer Awards


    Major UK supermarket Sainsburys yesterday announced a new beer competition. On the face of it this looks very similar to the Tesco Beer Awards, but somehow I trust Sainsburys to give much greater consideration to beers from smaller brewers than Tescos ever have.

    It seems uncanny how often Badger Brewery have won awards with Tescos, but far be it from me to suggest any sort of shenanigans!

    The sentence which does confuse me though is: "They will be looking for great tasting beer presented in a way that will encourage our customers to buy it." This does seem to suggest that packaging or image may become as important as taste, which really should be the be all and end all, except perhaps for cost.

    Time will tell of course where these awards go, but let's hope for some interesting innovative beers on our supermarket shelves later this year.

    7 comments:

    Zythophile said...

    On the face of it this looks very similar to the Tesco Beer Awards

    Which wouldn't be much of a surprise, as it's being run by the same PR/promotions company that ran the Tesco awards for many years ...

    I trust Sainsburys to give much greater consideration to beers from smaller brewers than Tescos ever have

    That's a little unfair, Tesco's awards always had one "big brewery" winner and one "small brewery" winner.

    It seems uncanny how often Badger Brewery have won awards with Tescos, but far be it from me to suggest any sort of shenanigans!

    I've been a judge in the Tesco awards on a number of occasions, and the judging itself is always done "blind" - hanky-panky might go on in the adding-up of the judges' figures, I suppose, but I doubt it very much.


    ... packaging or image may become as important as taste, which really should be the be all and end all...

    Sadly, packaging is already MORE important than taste, which is why so many bottled beers come in clear glass, and taste lightstruck ...

    maeib said...

    I didn't realise it is the same PR company. I take it the Tescos awards will continue?

    You will have to excuse my comments about Tescos. I do have a warranted grudge against them and am suspicious of most of their actions. I accept your comments about the judging.

    And it's so sad that such credence is paid to packaging. It really should be all about the beer.

    Kieran Haslett-Moore said...

    It would be pretty difficult to judge the packaging blind!. Im assuming judging will be split into two with the beer first evaluated blind and the packaging judged later? I have judged packaging at two different international beer awards, I tend to go against my instincts, selecting the packaging least to my taste as its usually the one that most retail freindly.

    haddonsman said...

    I'd rather the supermarkets left such competitions alone. Small brewer 'wins', forced to up production, other beers in their range are then sacrificed, $upermarket stops stocking the 'winning' bottle, brewer struggles...

    They should stock local brewed beers instead.

    ianto said...

    Just so you know - Tesco have run a beer challenge for 12 years - way before any similar Sainsbury competition. Tesco have always until recently run four competitions. Spring/Summer Small and Large brewer and Autumn Winter Small and Large Brewers. They also recently launched a cider competition and an Imported Beer category.

    As of last year the format was changed to give more emphasis to local products. There are now two seperate ale style competitions, (bitter/ale and Porter/stout) along with Cider, Fruit Beer, Lager and Wheat Beers. As well as a new Low and reduced alcohol category.

    This year for the first time there were SEVEN regional beer competitions - the prize for winning any of these is a listiing within that region. This year there were regional winners such as Salopian Brewing Co, Wylam Brewery, and BrewDog.

    I can vouch for the fact that in the last four years, there have been no "shenanigans" as it has been suggested, when it came to the judging and scoring. Its only four years as I have only attended the last four. Hall and Woodhouse have won on merit. Indeed, at least three of the top ten bottled ales in the UK (by sales) are ex tesco Beer challenge winners - two of those from Hall & Woodhouse. They have an excellent brewhouse down in Dorset, and a great team of innovative and dedicated people working on challenging new products.

    Tesco now have a range of 230+ bottled ales in their range. of which approximately 180 are classed as Local ales. Breweries such as Oakhams, O'Hanlons, Arran, Black Isle, Hurns, Sharps, Elgoods, Glastonbury, Arkells, Cambridge Brewery, Wye Valley, Williams Bros, Goff's, Wolf, Skinners, Tom Woods etc etc etc.

    The point of the Beer Challenge was ALWAYS to drive innovation in the bottled ale category.

    If you talk to brewers who have won - they see it as a very very worthwhile achievement. Loddon Brewery last year said it "was like winner an oscar of the beer industry".

    Anything that gets this staid, comfortable, and I hesitate to say "Boring" industry to look to its laurels and try to DELIGHT the beer drinker has to be a good thing.

    Doesn't it?

    maeib said...

    ianto - Thanks for your comment, it is appreciated. As I mentioned in my response to zythophile, I do have a grudge and a suspicious mind where Tescos are concerned so my comment re shenanigans is probably unfair.

    It is refreshing that the supermarkets are giving custom to the smaller brewers, we don't want the shelves full of nationals and regionals, so I applaud T + S for their award schemes.

    I did though visit my local Tesco (Northampton) last night as I urgently needed medicine. The only localish small brewery beer I spotted was Belvoir Melton Red, so there is a little work to be done.

    Anonymous said...

    Sorry to be a cynic, but I've just had a look at the brewers' blurb from Sainsbo's about this competition. It seems they've tried to be inclusive - advising small brewers of how they can enter, where they might send their beer for bottling & how much they might expect to receive for their beer if they win.

    However, from first impressions, the bottom line is that IIRC the brewer gets about 84p per bottle, but needs to commit to 30 brewers barrels of beer per week for 6 months.

    These 2 things at a stroke pretty much rule out (a) small breweries, i.e. the hundreds whose weekly production is less than 25barrels & (b) those breweries who don't bottle to a very high standard in house (I doubt Sains would be happy with hand-bottling -> high O2 pickup, no sterile filtration = compromised shelf-life/quality = not good for supermarkets) & the cost of sending beer away to be professionally bottled means that there would be nothing left to pay the brewer for making the beer!

    I hope not, but I suspect we will be seeing more "big boys beers" winning.