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Cooking Lager, in his humorous and highly enjoyable blog, has made much of the virtues of cheap supermarket lout. Whilst not adverse to the odd drop of properly brewed Czech or German "lager", as opposed to the mass-marketed "international brands", I find myself agreeing with some of his sentiments, especially that of price. Both lout drinkers and "pong" drinkers (as Cookie would call us ale lovers), are increasingly being priced out of pubs by high prices. Just the other evening I was paying £3.30 - £3.40 for a pretty average pint of beer, and whilst I am reasonably well paid, I certainly could not afford to keep up that level of spending by visiting the pub on a nightly basis (however much I might like to!), given other commitments, such as mortgage, council tax, utility bills etc.

The answer for me, like Cookie therefore is to do much of my drinking at home. (I find sitting in front of my computer, with a glass of beer, helps my creativity). However, unlike our canned lout lover, my drink of preference at home is invariably bottled ale. With some judicious shopping around it is quite possible to pick up bottled ales at knockdown prices. Call it Cheap Supermarket "Pong" if you like, but at the sort of prices that can be found, it's hard to resist the temptation on the supermarket shelves. For those who would like to take advantage of these offers, here is a guide to some of the bargains currently available.

Iceland - Brakspears Bitter - 2 bottles for £2.00
Lidl - Brains SA - £1.19 per bottle
- also seen in Lidl's recently Youngs Bitter (BCA) £1.19; Marstons Pedigree £1.00, plus regular promotions on Hobgoblin and Shepherd Neame bottled beers.

Locally we have both Sainsbury's and Waitrose. Both run regular two bottles for £3.oo promotions. Amongst others Sainsbury's currently have Fullers ESB, Pilsner Urquell and Guinness Foreign Extra Stout on promotion at the above price.

Also on promotion, and definitely worth sampling, is the new Sainsbury's Taste the Difference IPA, which is currently on offer at just £1.26 a bottle. This is a fine example of a traditional IPA. Brewed by Marstons, at an abv of 5.9%, this beer is perhaps a little less hopped than their Old Empire, but is still a fine, well-balanced, and well-crafted ale.

Once I get my home-brewing back up and running, things could change, but for the moment I'm enjoying some of the bargain ales (and the odd Pilsner) on offer at our local supermarkets, and saving money in the process.

ps. I know I should be supporting pubs wherever possible, and I haven't forsaken them completely. I attend regular CAMRA socials and still go out for the odd drink, or two, with friends and family. As many of you know, I also like to travel abroad in search of good beer, and the money to pay for these trips has to come from somewhere. Given the dearth of decent pubs locally, I would rather put the money saved towards drinking somewhere (and something) half-decent, be it home or away!