We recently went back to visit Lizzie's parents near Southampton and I'd heard about this little beer shop so needless to say this became the main focus of the trip for me. On the outskirts of the city centre, Bitter Virtue looks pretty basic from the outside, but inside it's impressive... lots of beer.
The first bottles you see are primarily UK beers including quite a few small local breweries and a decent range from Thornbridge, Buxton, Marble, Magic Rock etc. The rest of the shop is divided into beers by their country - lots of Belgian and Dutch beers, weird and wonderful American micro breweries and (surprising to me) a selection of craft beers from countries I'm not so used to seeing such as Sweden and Italy.
What I didn't expect to find was beer on tap! There is also a couple of barrels at the back of the shop, you can buy yourself a pint (I think generally restricted to local beers) to sup while you peruse the shelves... what a lovely idea. We didn't have one though, it was quite early in the morning... I tend to like to leave it until at least 10.30am before I feel it's acceptable to have a beer.
So... I reckon we spent about an hour in this little place reading labels of unusual beers we hadn't seen before, trying to work out what type of beer certain ones were and mainly trying to decide which ones we were each going to buy. This is what we ended up buying...
From left to right...
De Ranke Saison De Dottignies (Belgium) - I love their hoppy beers Guldenberg and XX Bitter... Lizzie and I have both recently got into saisons so when I saw this, I had to try it.
De Molen Blikken & Blozen (Holland) - Speaking of saisons, this is the best one I have ever tasted... I actually bought two of these beauties.
Schneider Aventinus Eisbock (Germany) - A Lizzie choice based on her fondness of German dark beers.
Left Hand Brewery Stranger (USA) - There are so many American Pale Ales I've tried and loved so I just picked one I hadn't tried before.
Nils Oscar Hopyard IPA (Sweden) - Craft beer seems to be taking off in Sweden as the moment following in the footsteps of neighbours Norway (Nogne) and Denmark (Mikkeller), unless I've only just heard about it. The owner of the shop reckons this is one of the best IPAs he's ever had and seeing as IPA is my favourite beer style I didn't have to think about it for long... in the basket.
Elav Grunge IPA (Italy) - I know nothing about this other than that it's an IPA and it's Italian. I haven't tried anything proper from Italy (I mean other than Peroni and Birra Moretti), they were all pretty expensive and this was the cheapest.
I don't think there are many shops where you can go to pick up a few beers and come away with such an interesting variety as this. If you're near Southampton, I recommend you pop in here and rummage around... and if it's past 10.30am, have a pint while you do.
Just have a look at the beer list on here...