This post was inspired by a Foodie Christmas present I received this year which was a selection ‘Box of Brew’ from

Craft Ales have exploded onto the UK alcohol market with trendy pubs and microbreweries leading the way in the on trade market and a whole plethora of small producers finding their way into retail. Brew Dog has been a particular success story over the last 12-18 months having fully utilised social media and the power of crowd funding to grow their income and brand awareness. This revolution has also done wonders for the Beers, Wines and Spirits category because it’s driven a huge amount of value because retailers can now charge £2 per bottle rather than 50p with some of the ever-promoted big brands.

Subscription beer clubs have sprouted on the back of the on/off-trade success to allow fanatics to experience wares from lots of different producers, selected based on individual preferences, delivered straight to your door. What a fantastic idea! Clubs such as and have done the foraging for you and unearthed some buried truffles of ale, packaged them up and sent them straight to you door. All you have to do is open, enjoy and evaluate so you can decide whether you want to see more from that particular small business. So that’s exactly what I did!

Now, I am not a hipster. I have never sported a top knot nor have I cultivated a beard for any other reason than laziness and therefore I am not your typical craft ale drinker. If truth be told I’m more of a cider support than an ale ally. However, I can’t profess to being a Food Adventurer without being, well, Food Adventurous. So I wholeheartedly decided to take on the challenge and enjoy my Christmas Craft Ale last night, alongside Jools Holland on NYE2016.

I’m going to rate the beers I tried on three measures: quaffability (did I enjoy the drink?); appearance (what did I think of the look of the liquid and packaging?); overall (how likely am I to buy it again?). I will also rate my overall experience from

The first bottle I tried, and remembered to make notes on, was from Gypsy Inc. and called Gypsy No. 5. It was a 6.2% cloudy ale with a strong, hoppy initial flavour that evolved to leave a lasting, smooth, caramel finish.

Quaffability: 8/10

Appearance: 5/10

Overall: 7/10

I then explored a darker ale from Brew Fist called Caterpillar Pale Ale. It was darker in appearance than the Gypsy Inc. and, although it was 5.8%, had a much harsher, almost peppery, initial hit with harsh citrus tones to finish.

Quaffability: 4/10

Appearance: 7/10

Overall: 5/10

My next selection was made purely with my eyes, I loved the packaging. It was a small aluminium can from Them and Us. When poured, it delivered a smooth 4.5%, almost, gas-less ale with light fruit flavours. The deep mahogany hues in the glass were almost mesmerising!

Quaffability: 8/10

Appearance: 10/10

Overall: 8/10

Finally, because I could have continued all evening but I would have become more and more nonsensical, I unleased an American Pale Ale from Emelisse. This was a much lighter and gassier beer at 3.5% and appealed to my familiar tastes much more than the others. It gave a very light, crisp and refreshing drink with delicate citruses at the end.

Quaffability: 10/10

Appearance: 9/10

Overall: 9/10

I must admit I was pleasantly surprised by my Ale Mail and, although it wasn’t something I would have chosen for myself, I’m a convert! With a good salty snack and some rugby to watch I could happily work my way through some more craft ales. The delivery from was well presented, easy to follow and guided me through this new experience. I would definitely recommend this gift for a foodie. Note to self: keep on being Food Adventurous!

Northern Munkee


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