The Cyclops scheme is designed to take the mystery out of describing beer, and to provide a standard method of categorising ales in terms of sweetness, bitterness etc. in a way that is easy to understand for the average beer drinker.
Developed by a group of industry bodies including CAMRA, Cask Marque, the Society of Independent Brewers and The Independent Family Brewers of Britain, this scheme certainly has some industry weight behind it.
Cyclops accredited beers display various ratings and tasting notes on the bottle label, or at the pump. A score out of five is given for the bitterness and the sweetness of the beer, together with a very brief description of the look of the ale, the smell, and the taste – no more than three words for each. These descriptions are aimed at the average consumer, not the expert. There is also a list of the main ingredients in the beer.
It allows beer drinkers to compare beers before they buy, and when they have decided on their preferred style of beer, to find similar beers that they might like, and maybe try some that they wouldn’t otherwise have considered. It also helps bar staff to understand and give advice on the beers they are serving.
Look out for the Cyclops label on the pump clip or on the back of your bottle of beer. Here’s an example of the tasting notes for Gadds’ No 5 from Ramsgate Brewery, to give you an idea of what they look like:
When we last looked there were 216 breweries affiliated to Cyclops, with 1315 beers in the scheme, but this is growing all the time. This is a great way of providing more information to the customer, allowing them to make more informed choices. The expert ale drinker may feel that this system takes a little of the mystery out of trying a new beer; for the uninitiated it’s a great help.