The Beer Isle: Discover British Beer

July 15, 2016

Now, we all know that you can get subscription boxes for beauty products - but did you know what you can get ones for alcohol too? Seeing as my choice of beverage is beer, I was pleasantly surprised to come across The Beer Isle on Instagram. If I remember rightly, they liked a couple of pictures on my Instagram feed, and I always make a point of checking out the profiles of people who do so. I got in touch and asked if I could review one of their boxes, and Charles, the owner, very kindly sent me one along to try. It has taken me and Martin a while to work through it (among the many other beers that we have in our stash!), but finally I can tell you all about it. Read on to find out more about The Beer Isle Subscription Club and what makes it different to the rest!

The Beer Isle Subscription Club box review
The Beer Isle Subscription Box Drinks Menu
Bottle opener from the The Beer Isle Subscription Box

The Beer Isle is a fantastic way to discover the best of what British microbreweries have to offer, without having to leave your home. Instead of having to trail around all the different shops (although admittedly I do quite enjoy that), a box of twelve mixed beers gets delivered to your door. Every month, The Beer Isle focuses on a different region of Britain; offering a mixture of beers from different breweries within that region. For example, in June the box featured beers from North West England; Lancashire, Manchester, Merseyside and Cheshire. The box is quite sizeable, as you would expect, but the beers are well packaged and were clearly handled with care, as every bottle arrived intact. The first item to greet you is the "Drinks Menu", which is actually extremely informative and interesting to read. Inside it details the list of beers that you receive within the box; a short blurb about the brewery that makes the beer, a descriptor of the beer in question and a scoring box, which allows you to mark the beer out of ten. The Beer Isle also encourage you to take a picture of your scores and send them in online, which they then use to discover your favourite beer of the month. Also included in the box is a really neat little bottle opener, which is of course a necessity to get into all of those bottles!

Brewsmith Anvil Ale from The Beer Isle June Subscription Box - North West EnglandTicketyBrew Pale Ale from The Beer Isle June Subscription Box - North West England

Well, let's dive straight into the beers, shall we? First up is Brewsmith Anvil Ale, 4.5%. This is described as a "Brown hoppy bitter", which sounds interesting enough. Brewed with five hops in total, this certainly wasn't short on the hoppy flavour, but it was surprisingly fruity, which I wasn't expecting at all. It didn't pour anywhere near as dark as I was expecting, given the description - it was definitely more amber than brown! I gave this beer from Bury, Greater Manchester 7/10. Also from Greater Manchester, we have Ticketybrew Pale Ale, 5.5%. This surprised me in the opposite way to the Anvil Ale by being darker than the name gives it credit for, thanks to the addition of caramelised malt. This led to a slightly sweetened flavour that brought down the bitterness of the hops, and a citrus aroma. As the label suggests, there is a floral element to the nose, but I couldn't taste it at all in the beer. I gave this beer 5/10; not because it was bad, it just wasn't very exciting.

Blackjack Rabbit Hunt from The Beer Isle June Subscription Box - North West EnglandCloudwater Keyworth's Early Lager from The Beer Isle June Subscription Box - North West England

Another pale ale comes next, this time in the form of Blackjack Rabbit Hunt, 4.4%. I was previously unaware of Blackjack before having this beer, so I was keen to give it a go. This exploded everywhere when I opened the bottle, and upon first pour I was a bit disappointed. However, I added a little of the sediment from the bottom of the bottle, and this made a huge difference. It is definitely bitter and very hoppy, but light on the tongue and quite refreshing. I got a fruity note, but couldn't quite place it. The score for this beer was 6/10 - marked down one because it fought back! Another Manchester beer is from one of my favourite breweries; Cloudwater Keyworth's Early Lager, 4.8%. I had high hopes for this, and I wasn't disappointed. This is definitely a summer beer, and for a lager (which I'm not a fan of usually), this is extremely drinkable. It is also slightly malty to boot, which very much contributes to why I enjoyed it so much! This earned a very respectable score of 7/10.

ShinDigger West Coast Pale from The Beer Isle June Subscription Box - North West EnglandFirst Chop ChaiPA from The Beer Isle June Subscription Box - North West England

Two more breweries that I was unfamiliar with before this box - the first of which is ShinDigger West Coast Pale, 4.7%. Again, hailing from Manchester, the name is a nod to the American hops used to brew this beer. This is what I would describe as a very 'clean' drink; it has a strong bitter aroma, but the taste is extremely crisp and bursting with hints of tropical fruit. I also got a taste of biscuit and toffee, along with an abundance of hops in the finish. This was one of the top beers out of the box for me, scoring 8/10. However, it was beaten quite spectacularly by First Chop ChaiPA, 4.8%. The first smell of this is Christmas; Chai tea, ginger and cinnamon make up the nose of this most unusual beer. It is definitely not for everyone, but I found it to be absolutely wonderful. It has all of these warming spices, yet isn't heavy in the slightest and is incredibly big on flavour. It's certainly unique and a bet that paid off well - this beer got the top score for this box of 9/10. It lost a point because one was quite enough; if I were to have two, it would have easily turned sickly due to its intensity.

Liverpool Craft Beer Co Love Lane from The Beer Isle June Subscription Box - North West EnglandRunaway Brewery American Brown Ale from The Beer Isle June Subscription Box - North West England

Next up are two very different beers; starting off with Liverpool Craft Beer Co. Love Lane Pale, 4.7%. I remember trying one of their beers last year at the Beertown Malton festival, but I don't think it was this one. This is one of their original brews, and a good staple for any respectable brewing company. Interesting fact; this beer was originally brewed under a railway bridge on Liverpool's Love Lane, hence the name! Whole leaf citrus hops makes up the majority of the flavour, and on the end tags on a malted biscuit aftertaste. If I'm honest, this wasn't 'pale ale' territory for me, but it scored 6/10 and was pleasant nonetheless. Runaway Brewery American Brown Ale, 5.7% is another American style addition to the box, and one that I enjoyed immensely. This is extremely malty, with a very discernable note of caramel and a slight hint of coffee. It was unusually sharp, but it somehow seemed to work in favour of this brew. Another excellent beer, with a score of 8/10.

Mad Hatter Penny Lane Pale from The Beer Isle June Subscription Box - North West EnglandBlackjack Deer Hunter from The Beer Isle June Subscription Box - North West England

Another one of my favourite breweries made it into this subscription box; Mad Hatter Penny Lane Pale, 3.9%. This is the lightest ABV out of all of the beers, but it certainly didn't lack impact. As is usually prominent in pale ales, this is light, hoppy, and with a fruity aroma, but quite dry in the mouth. It's certainly a very easy to drink beer, and two or three of these could be had without any trouble at all. There's definitely no complaints from me about this one, and it scored the second highest out of the pales in this selection at 7/10. The only beer that I actually didn't taste at all is Blackjack Deer Hunter, 5.4%. This is a coffee saison and as such was never going to touch my lips, so I let Martin have this one all to himself. Isn't he lucky! This impressed him instantly with a powerful punch of espresso, and poured light in colour. He gave this one full marks on his beer app, so I would assume on that basis he would have given this one 10/10. However, this one doesn't count for my score!

TicketyBrew Blonde from The Beer Isle June Subscription Box - North West EnglandOff Beat Odd Ball Red from The Beer Isle June Subscription Box - North West England

Ticketybrew Blonde, 5.8% is one of the last ones I tried, and I'm sorry to say that this was an utter disappointment. I didn't actually smell it whilst pouring the beer, but as soon as I lifted it to my lips, it was distinctly unpleasant. Still, some food smells horrible but tastes good, so being a good sport I gave it a try anyway. I genuinely don't know if this was off, or whether it really tastes like vinegar, but I'm going to suggest the former. This can happen to any beer, but it was immediately apparent that something wasn't right about this one. I couldn't finish it (to be honest, I couldn't really start it!), so it gets a score of 1/10. Last but definitely not least, was the Off Beat Oddball Red, 4.2%. The creation of a female brewer, this is a ruby red ale that has a lovely spicy undertone to compliment the abundance of Columbus hops. Definitely a beer for the colder months, but still very enjoyable at this time of year. This is quite an intense beer for the percentage, but one that I could have easily had another of! This certainly gives other red ales a run for their money, scoring 8/10.

The Beer Isle Subscription Club box review

So, what did I think of my first ever beer subscription box? I love the idea behind The Beer Isle, and think they've definitely found a gap in the market that needed to be catered to. It's an excellent way of being able to try beers from parts of the country that you may never get to visit, and supporting those microbreweries that are all over Britain. My criticisms of the box are that a lot of the beers were of the same style; out of the twelve in the box, five of those were pale ales, which would start to get very repetitive if drunk over a shorter period of time than I had. In the future, I would like to see a greater selection of styles of ales, as I know that there are many, many variations to choose from. Bigger breweries like Mad Hatter and Cloudwater do such an amazing range of beers, it was a shame that the two most basic styles were chosen. I also didn't know how to feel about two beers from the same brewery being included in the box; I'd like to think that there were more breweries to choose from for this region, but perhaps there wasn't. The upside to this, was that the two beers chosen from the same brewery were very different in style, so that got a thumbs up from me there. All in all, I very much enjoyed The Beer Isle's Subscription Club, and would definitely be interested in giving it another go in the future. Even though I'm from Leeds, I'd be curious to see what a box focusing on Yorkshire beers would contain!

The Beer Isle Subscription Box is available from their website. Prices start from £36 per month, but you can save by signing up for three or twelve months at a time. Sign up to their newsletter and save £5 off your first case!

Related Posts


  1. What a very handsome box! The chai IPA in particular sound very interesting, will have to keep my eyes peeled for it! x

    1. It was an excellent box - the ChaiPA is certainly something special! x