If you’ve ever wondered what’s going on with those stubby, squashed beer bottles on the supermarket shelves, this is a good chance to find out. Gatekeeper is a classic, British golden ale full of toffee apple sweetness. It’s not suitable for vegans and contains gluten.
When do you choose what beer you want to buy?
If you’re a massive geek with no life (yes, I mean myself) you’ve done extensive research on what beers are available, in season, most fashionable. If you’re in a pub, you might ask the bartender what’s most popular or what’s most similar to a beer you know you like.
It’s a different story when shopping for bottles. With rows of beers staring down at you from the shelves, you’re forced to decide what to buy based largely on visual appeal. Standing out from the crowd can mean the difference between selling out and gathering dust.
You can tell the founder of St Peter’s brewery has a background in marketing.
These squashed, oval bottles come with a trademark, so you won’t see them anywhere else. I like to stock up on them before a brew day so my homebrew collection looks a bit like a Victorian apothecary. The label tells us it’s hopped with Challenger and Goldings, and it sits at 4.7% ABV.
Inside, we’re treated to a dark gold, clear beer with a thick, white head. It’s surprisingly bubbly, for what otherwise looks like a very traditional beer.
A deep sniff yields a strong malt aroma: toasty and iscuity. Alongside that there’s caramel and apple sweetness, balancing out the bready malt.
On the palate, Gatekeeper starts toffee apple sweet. It’s only after it warms on the tongue that we pick up the toasty malt flavours, then some of the bitterness too. It’s not overwhelmingly flavoured in any particular direction, but you do feel like you’re being taken on a (very short, familiar) journey with this beer.
In all, a good, if unexceptional beer. But that’s before we look at the price.
If you pick up a bottle of Gatekeeper Golden Ale in Waitrose, you’re paying just £1.50 for a 500ml bottle. That is absurdly cheap for any beer, let alone one like this that actually tastes pretty nice.
As such, this beer is a pretty good bet for modern craft beer fans looking for a route into more traditional British ale styles. It’s a solid beer, showcasing the malt and yeast aroma profiles you’d expect from this style of beer, and at £1.50 a bottle it’s hard to go wrong.