Breakfast Beer Tasting: M&S Sovereign


Single hop beers have been giving beer geeks a hard-on for some time now and with Marks and Spencer now entering the fray, it was the perfect excuse to road test a few. As if hop lovers need an excuse to crack a bottle open for breakfast. Unlike Brewdog, the M&S range are all 568ml bottles and are brewed by different breweries. Which is ok as it gives the various breweries the chance to impress. Or not.

This is a 5% offering from Elgoods. This long established, family-run, Cambridgeshire brewer might not be the first name that springs to mind when thinking of hops but although we know from the bottle that Sovereign is a relatively new hop (1995), it is definitely not one of the new wave of aggressive hops. It is softer, more gentle you might say, and so perhaps a better match for a traditional brewer.

Despite being called a “Golden Ale”, naturally it poured orange in colour with a small off-white head. The aroma was subdued: light cereal and toffee notes. This subtlety extended to the beer which was on the bland side. There was bread and toffee along with a rather annoying, not the say cloying, honeyed edge. Not surprising as it contains “honey flavouring”. Why, I don’t know but it takes the edge of this beer for me.

Tyson says: Elgoods have made a bit of a mess of this. Sovereign’s delicate nature needs better care to get the most out of it. Here instead of off-setting the sweet malt flavours, it seems that the master plan was to add some honey syrup to the mix. In my opinion; not a good example of a single hop beer.

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