I do enjoy a ruby beer from time to time and both of these are widely available at nice low prices. The Ruby Rooster by Hathwood is a LIDL staple, while The Cranborne Poacher by Badger Beers can be found in a lot of supermarkets, but I tend to get it as part of the Morrison's 4 for £6 offer. So with both coming in around £1.50 it's a fair contest.
Both beers come in a nice hefty 500ml bottles, which is how it should be. The Ruby Rooster is presumably meant to be a decent session beer coming in at a mild 3.8%, while The Cranborne Poacher boasts a much more potent 5.7%, so it'll certainly get you drunk the quickest.
Ruby Rooster Beer Review
Hatherwood Brewery is actually just the cheap off shoot of the much more well known Wychwood Brewery (think Hobgoblin) and brews its beers purely for LIDL. They also do an IPA, a porter, a golden beer and so on, basically just one of everything except a stout.
The Ruby Rooster is certainly one of the best craft beers LIDL has on regularly, the only problem with that statement is that they don't do many, so it's not a great achievement. I'm actually been a little unfair, the problem with Hathwood/LIDL beers isn't what they are, it's what they could be. Remember all the 'What's the matter Lagerboy, scared it will taste of something?' advertising Wychwood did for Hobgoblin? Wasn't that good?
Hathwood beers just don't live up to the Wychwood philosophies. They are the cheap, but not that much cheaper, weakly branded alternatives to please, but not excite any palate. The Ruby Rooster is a good red beer. It's a solid offering, if someone offered you it you'd take it quite happily. It's quite a dark ruby colour, with a small head and a pleasant malty smell and taste. It has a very slight chocolate twang which is always welcome, but lets be honest, it's watered down Hobgoblin.
This is the thing with Hathwood beers, they all taste how you'd expect them too. The IPA tastes of a generic IPA, the porter tastes of a generic porter, and ultimately Ruby Rooster tastes of a generic red beer. If you like red beers, and want a cheap session, this is perfectly acceptable as an offering, but if you want anything more than this you'll be disappointed. 5/10
Cranborne Poacher Beer review
The Cranborne Poacher by Badger Brewery in Dorset is a very different offering. There's no hiding behind a pseudonym here, Badger Brewery has brewed it, and they are proud of it. You've probably had a Badger Brewery beer before, and you've probably enjoyed it. They don't have a huge selection, and this is about the darkest, which is a shame as I love a good dark beer.
Regardless though if I was offered a choice of almost any ruby/red beer this would probably be my pick of the whole bunch, it's incredible. I don't usually go for fruity beers but this, and the excellent Titanic Plum Porter always catch my attention. There's just so much flavour going on in this beer it's amazing that it works at all. You'll certainly taste plum and cranberry, but there's almost certainly some cherry and raspberry tastes going on too beneath the perfect thick head. I'm sure that some people will say there's too much going on, or that the flavours are overwhelming, as is the percentage, which I'll grant you is dangerous in something that tastes this good, and is so easy to drink. To those people I say fine if you're scared it might taste of something go get yourself a Ruby Rooster, but for me this is a magnificent 10/10 beer and I never thought I'd say that about a ruby ale.