I compared four cheap ales to a more expensive Marks and Spencer Platinum Jubilee – Steven White

The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations will see thousands of street parties take place across the country over the bank holiday weekend. And inevitably there will be plenty of drinks consumed during this, including a beer or two.

It’s unclear exactly when beer was first brewed in England, but I know Guildford town center sells a lot of it, so I took a trip there to compare five ales, ambers pale and golden. I even found out that Marks and Spencer sell their own Platinum Jubilee beer.

I also found a Sainsbury’s own brand beer, but the others were all branded and bought from the same store. Apart from the most expensive M&S beer, the others cost less than £2 a bottle.

READ MORE: The best pubs in Surrey to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee bank holiday in

I confess to not being a connoisseur when it comes to beers – all I know is that I like its refreshing taste as it bubbles up in my throat. So, without further ado, here are the results listed in order of flavor.

1. Theakston Old Private

I could taste a nice sweetness, but it was more caramel than pear – the latter being listed on Theakston’s site. But this black beer doesn’t have to worry about semantics and it’s by far the best on the list.

The beer, hailing from the market town of Masham in North Yorkshire, also has the highest alcohol content, which might overpower the sweet flavor, but only adds to its pleasant depth.

£1.65 per 500ml – 5.6% ABV.

2. Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference Kentish Ale

I was surprised that a private label beer was so high on the list, but Sainsbury’s Kentish Ale was a very indulgent drink. It had a sweet citrus flavor, with just a hint of bitterness.

However, upon closer inspection of its label, I discovered that it was expertly brewed by Shepherd Neame, which is why it tasted so good.

£1.65 per 500ml – 4.5% ABV.


I couldn’t quite taste the caramel aroma of that amber beer it said it had, but it had a slight welcoming spiciness. Its brewer, Shepherd Neame, is Britain’s oldest brewer – from the 17th century – and this one is Kentish beer, which means it’s only brewed with Kentish ingredients.

Its flavor spread through my mouth quite gently and I found myself swirling it around a few times before swallowing it. A very nice effort indeed.

£1.25 per 500ml bottle – 4.5% ABV.

4. Bishop’s Finger

Another Shepherd Neame product on the list – and although this beer from Kent finished fourth, it’s by no means a bad one. It had a good balance between bitterness and sweetness.

After Theakston Old Peculiar, I also thought it smelled the best, with a touch of sweetness about it.

£1.30 per 500ml – 5.4% ABV.

5. Marks and Spencer Jubilee ale

Sorry madam, I wanted to love you the best, but you are royally the worst. This golden beer was tasteless compared to the others and far too bitter.

It’s the biggest and most expensive on the list, being about twice the cost of all the other bottles, and I suspect its novelty will ensure it sells well enough for M&S. But I couldn’t overcome its blandness.

£3 per 660ml bottle – 5% ABV.

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