I have always enjoyed finding a pint of Castle Rock, Harvest Pale. It is a quaffable pale ale, 3.8%, crisp and bitter with liberal use of American hops. It has won numerous CAMRA and SIBA awards and it is rare to find it in less than tip-top form. At £2.10 in the Vat & Fiddle, the brewery tap, it is an absolute winner.
At the weekend, I learned that it is now available in a bottle. Brewed out to 4.3% to give a bit of extra oomph to counteract the carbonation necessary for a bottled beer, I found it to be yet another winner. The increased strength balancing the biscuit sweetness of the malt and a distinct dry bitterness - again from liberal use of American hops. From the clean, fresh taste it is clear that top quality ingredients are used and the flavour is consistent with the cask version. I believe it now has a national listing in both Morrisons and Tescos so should be available on a supermarket shelf near you.
As a slight aside, the bottled beer is brewed and bottled under license by Marston's in Wolverhampton. Its provenance is clearly stated on the bottle. I am more interested in what a beer tastes like but should I care more that such a great beer is getting a wider distribution supported by a giant like Marston's as there is insufficient capacity at Castle Rock to bottle the beer ?