SilkTork (93) Southampton, United Kingdom, England | August 27, 2017
OK. A sensible review of Tesco. It’s a big supermarket chain which sells beer. Common sense: the bigger the shop the larger and more interesting the range. Like many supermarket chains these days it sells national and international brands alongside local brands. So if you’re in a big London Tesco you’re likely to get beers that were brewed by London breweries alongside the national and international brands. If you’re a a large Glasgow branch... You get the idea - you don’t need to wade your way through 6,553 branch reviews to get that basic information. To reiterate: the bigger the shop the bigger the range. Local branches sell local beers alongside the national brands. You are more likely to get a Scottish beer in a Scottish Tesco than a West Country beer. From that basic notion I think you can make an assessment yourself of what you are likely to find in the Tesco store you are passing.
As a general trend, the beers in Tesco are cheaper than in independent beer shops. They do deals such as four bottles for £6. A typical Extra branch will have well over 100 different brands from all over the world. If you’re visiting an area, it may save you time and money to go into the local Tesco before going into the local beer shop. Some people may prefer to visit the local independent in order to give them their support. I like to support the notion of supermarkets selling local beers, so my own preference is to support local beers in Tesco. I suspect this also helps the local brewery, as it is likely Tescos will shift way more beers than the local shop. I also like to visit the local independent, but it’s each to their own. Local independents will generally have a much wider range of local beers as well as a knowledgeable owner who will usually be happy to chat about beer. If I have limited time or am with my family I will generally only visit Tesco, but otherwise I will aim to get to the local beer shop if there is one (often there isn’t).
Never believed I would be writing up Supermarkets, but hey ho. Tesco is obviously a monolith of a Supermarket group and have their ups and downs on the beer front. Around 2013 they had a lot of new brands coming through but then never changed the range over the next few years. Now they are bringing a few newer brewers through, so there is a little more choice to be had. If I find myself in a Tesco then a visit to the beer shelves is essential, this is in the larger stores, the smaller ones tend to be pretty hopeless for craft beer.
Visited first time on June 26, 2017. Monday afternoon, around 5 pm. My third visit to Wokingham, after finding "Superstore" on my latest visit, I wanted to see if there was any other stores around. Realized when googling that Tesco have beer brewed for them that counts as "Hertfordshire", which I had left to tick, so in I went. They did have two different Tesco lagers, as for RB aliased to one. Only sold as multiple and not as singles. Their Bitter only sold as 4 packs, but for £1 per 4-pack, I could get one and still only sample the one can, even after asking was not allowed to buy just the one can. Also picked up a bottle of the Tesco IPA. Plenty of other beers and ciders to choose from, domestic and imported, quite a bit of craft even. Also a cold fridge with a limited selection. I didn’t fly with a checked bag this time, so settled for the cans of bitter and the bottle of IPA so I could tick my last UK county. Parking just outside, though only a short walk from downtown Wokingham (if you can use this word here), tricky to get to, since pedestrian crosswalks aren’t really in abundance. Not a place to seek out, but if you happen to be close by and want a can or bottle, at least a decent selection, for someone not local/native.
Hmm as has been mentioned the supermarket selection depends on branch and format. What I would say is that the overall theoretical selection in Tesco has improved markedly over the last few months with more offerings away from the standard big brewing groups, and online where you can get them all the range is good, website/delivery excellent and pricing extremely competitive - I just ordered 20 or so cans/bottles including the likes of Stone (mostly chasing up stuff I haven’t had in ages) and didn’t pay over £2 for any of them. But that’s not to say a small local branch would offer a lot more than Stella and Tyskie!
Recently starting to improve with their beer selection, the craft movement is really having a positive impact in this sector. While not as good as Marks and Spencer, the core range is getting better. Let’s face it, if I can pop around to a local shop and pick up Jaipur I’m not going to complain.
Always slightly disappointed with tesco once you’ve drunk the range available it doesn’t seem to change much the odd gem can be found as in re badged brewdog but the usual fare is standard the size of store varies the choice as others have explained much better than me.
It doesn’t make much sense to me to have a single composite listing for all the branches of a supermarket chain. For one thing, the UK is not particularly well supplied with decent specialist beer shops so, in many places in the UK if you are looking for somewhere to buy some bottles one or other of the supermarkets is likely to be your best option. Having to hunt round the many supermarket websites to see whether they have a branch nearby is not particularly helpful. That’s assuming you’re familiar with the UK supermarket chains which, if you’re a visitor from overseas, you may well not be. For another thing, all the major chains now have a variety of formats, ranging from small local convenience stores to massive hypermarkets. In the case of Tesco the categories (in ascending order of size) are Express, Metro, Superstore and Extra. They also have a separate band called One Stop that comes in various sizes. And then there’s the Tesco online operation that offers a few hundred beers and ciders for home delivery. Not surprisingly, the beer range varies considerably depending on format. On top of this, even the big chains are getting in on the "local produce" act, so you may well find a few local beers - even my local Tesco Express has Sambrooks Wandle alongside a small & rather desutory selection of a dozen or so major beer brands. Not the most exciting but it’s better than nothing. However, you won’t find that beer at all small Tesco stores around London and certainly won’t find it in branches outside London. All of this makes the "beers here" listing fairly useless.
I notice we don’t seem to be following the unhelpful composite listing format for Whole Foods Markets, who now have nine outlets in the UK with, no doubt, more to come.
So, it’s really difficult to know to come up wth a score for Tesco as a whole. All I can say is that, in some places, Tesco (or one of the other supermarkets) may be your best take-away option. You’ll just have to do some research on the supermarket websites to see which have what sort of outlet in the area, then take a look in at each to see which fits your needs best. RateBeer can’t help you with any of that.
This review is based on the very large Streatham Tesco "Extra" store. Generally don’t like Tescos, and never used them much back in the UK but this particular store local to my parents gaff is good in respect of some great country ticks you can pick up. Not sure this is the same for all "Extra" stores but I have picked up ticks from many hard to track down countries including Trinidad & Tobago, Uganda, and Barbados and Nigeria. Rest of selection seems to match what others have mentioned below.
As with all the supermarkets the range will vary depending on the size of the shop, and the range in the little Tesco Local & Metro ones is really not worth bothering. I’ve therefore based this review on their biggest "Extra" branded shops; in particular the one in Reading.
OK, it’s the UK’s biggest supermarket chain, and therefore people love to hate it (although their alleged aggressive business practices don’t help them win popularity either). However, in reality one of the reasons they’ve become the biggest is by offering what people want, generally at very attractive prices. In terms of beer, this means that their Extra stores have the biggest beer range of any of the supermarkets - recently in the Reading store I estimated that they had well over 150 different beers - plus plenty of ciders too. This competes with many specialist beer stores. Now, obviously you’re not looking at world beating ultra rare beers here, and nor would you expect that in a major supermarket. A lot of their ale section is from the usual big regional UK brewers, although they do stock some more unusual seasonals from the regionals on rotation, so even here there’s probably going to be some ticks even for UK raters (and visitors from abroad will no doubt find plenty to interest them. They also stock ales from some the the larger micros (eg Williams Bros, Butcombe), and recently seem to have got in more local beers (West Berkshire have suddenly popped up in the Reading store). They also have a reasonal craft range (again nothing particularly unusual, but you can pick up the likes of Brewdog & Sierra Nevada among others at knockdown prices). They also have the Marstons Revisionist and Greene King Metropolitan craft ranges brewed especially for them, along with some other "Tesco" branded beers. Finally their "world beer" range (oddly split between the beer aisle and the world foods aisle) is certainly the best of the supermarkets - you can probably tick off 30-odd countries here, including the highly-rated Sri Lankan Lion Stout and the. errm, Carib Sorrel Shandy. All the beer ranges seem to have new beers added on a fairly frequent basis, so even for the regular visitor there’s a good chance of finding something new. Prices are pretty cheap, and there’s usually an offer like 4 for £6 or 3 for £5 covering most of the beers. Service is pretty average (you won’t find anyone who knows about beer, but staff are reasonably polite and helpful (certainly better than in Asda, Lidl or Aldi). The food selection is huge, and the world food aisles have some quite interesting stuff for a supermarket. Comparing it to the other UK supermarkets (it’s obviously not fair to compare it to a specialist beer shop), it’s probably not got the fanciest range - if you want higher quality beers (or for the matter better service or higher prices) you’ll want to head to Waitrose or Marks & Spencers. However, if you’re purely looking for the biggest range of beer and many ticks, Tesco Extra beats all the other supermarkets hands down.