People might get the impression I’m a bit of a cheap-skate as I appear to be always on the look for beer bargains, but if truth be known I don’t go out with the deliberate intention of finding them, rather it’s more a case of me stumbling upon them.
Take Sunday, for example. After breakfasting at the Gate House in Tonbridge with son Matthew, we drove over to the large Tesco superstore at Riverhead- just the other side of Sevenoaks. We don’t have a Tesco of this size, in Matthew was keen to pick up a few groceries and I was under instruction from Mrs PBT’s to collect a few last minute items as well, it seemed a good idea to let him drive over to Sevenoaks, particularly as the journey would allow him to gain a little more practice and a little more confidence behind the wheel.
After collecting the small number of items we required – mainly last minute ingredients for tonight’s dinner, we both gravitated to the beer aisle, and it was there that I found the second bargain of the weekend – I will tell you about the first one later on.
Shortly before Christmas I wrote about the joy of finding St Austell Proper Job in cans. They might only have been 330 ml cans, but I find this size ideal for a quick drink, and if I’m really thirsty I can always crack open another. (Incidentally, this long ignored size seems to have made an astonishing comeback, thanks largely to the growth of the “craft beer” market.)
Back in December, the six pack cans of Proper Job were selling at the reduced price of £5; a reduction of £2 on the normal retail price. This time, whilst they were retailing at the full price of £7, you could buy two packs for just £9, a total saving of £5. Well game on, and despite trying my best to run the beer stocks I have at home, down a little, this was too good an opportunity to miss.
So what about the first cut price beer of the weekend? Well, with our rather swish new bathroom nearing completion, Mrs PBT’s thought it a good idea to look at some fixtures and fittings. Top of her list, given she is still a little unsteady on her feet, was a non-slip bath mat, as despite now being the proud owners of a walk-in shower, it can still end up rather slippery under foot.
M&S have a food and home-wares store a short drive away, so along with what seemed like half the local population, we headed over to the nearby Tunbridge Wells retail park. We didn’t have any luck with the bath mat, although there were some fancy towels which caught my wife’s attention.
Whilst we were there, we decided to do part of the weekly food shop, although not the items I ended up purchasing at Tesco the following day. Now whilst Mrs PBT’s likes a bit of posh-shopping now and again, M&S isn’t our normal place for groceries, so knowing that she likes to shop alone, I left her walking up and down the aisles whilst I perused the beer section.
I’m sure many of you are aware that Marks & Spencer stock an interesting and varied selection of beers, many of which are brewed exclusively for the store by the likes of Adnam’s, Meantime and Oakham, to name a few. Nestling amongst the tinnies were a few beers priced at the unbelievably low price of just a pound each – half the cost of most of the cans. Two in particular caught my eye; a 5.7% German Bock Lager from Butcombe and a more moderate 4.5% offering from Hog’s Back Brewery, called Five Hop lager.
I picked up a couple of cans of each, but was in for another pleasant surprise when I reached the check-out, as the beers were part of the store’s four for the price of three. My four cans of interesting looking beer therefore, cost me just £3.00!
Both beers were very drinkable. The Hog’s Back offering, was on the sweet side; certainly for a pilsner, although it passed muster as a perfectly acceptable south German Helles. Its stronger counterpart from Butcombe, was packed with lots of chewy, toffee malt, balanced with a touch of spiciness, from the hops. I would certainly buy both beers again, especially at these low prices.
Now I know what some of you are saying, that buying beer at bargain prices, to drink at home, doesn’t help pubs, especially at a time when the on-trade is really struggling. You would of course be right, but only to a point, as me spending less on my home-drinking, means I end up with more disposable income to spend when I do venture out to the pub.
To put things in perspective, I am reasonably well paid, but with an eye to the future, and especially with State Retirement Age just over two years away, I want to ensure I have sufficient funds to keep me comfortable, and in something like the manner I’m accustomed to, when I finally quit the rat race.
So the plan is to pay off the mortgage by the end of the third quarter of 2019, and then save as much as my lifestyle allows; both without living too miserly an existence. After all, there has to be a happy medium, especially as you can’t take your money with you, and as you never know what is round the corner, it does pay to live life to the full as much as possible.
Therefore any cut-price offers I come across which involve beer – and it has to be decent beer, rather than swill, are to be embraced, and taken advantage of.