Saturday, 6 March 2010

We're All Doomed


Had some decent beer in London yesterday. The Castle provided excellent Wolf Porter, a fairly good IPA called Mahseer, which reminded me a little of Ind Coope Burton Ale (and I mean that as a compliment). It comes from Green Jack brewery in Suffolk, a brewery I once had an ad hoc tour of many years ago. I must watch out for their beers . Getting served here at lunchtime is a problem, with the Peroni swilling suits braying and dominating the bar, but it is great for people (and totty) watching and has good beer, so what's not to like?

Not so impressive was the Fullers owned Mitre. Fullers beers dominate now of course, but it was to Roosters that I turned for refreshment. Alas Apres Ski was dull, under conditioned and a struggle to enjoy. No such problems at the Gunmakers where I can say without equivocation, I had the best beer I have ever had in London in terms of its presentation. Purity Mad Goose was the beer, from a new cask admittedly. It was absolutely perfect and properly sparkled too. Well done Jeff Bell. Other London pubs that aren't even on the same planet in terms of cellermanship, to note and copy.

In the Melton Mowbray in Holborn, I had my second ever half of Fullers Bengal Lancer. Like the first in the Doric Arch yesterday, it failed to hit the spot, though was pleasant enough in an unremarkable way. My view of Fullers beers is that they are becoming defined by what isn't there rather than what is. Like a poorly tuned radio, you can get the gist of it, but the sharpness and clarity isn't there. Everything in their beers is turned down a notch too far.

After a long wait for a 25 bus (every 10-12 minutes - bollocks), I nipped into the Brown Bear in Leman St, our nearest pub. A choice of Pride, Black Sheep or Sharps Doom Bar was offered. Not being a fan of Black Sheep - too weedy - I plumped for Doom Bar. This is a beer I've criticised in the past and seen criticised in blogs elsewhere, but I thought it deserved a second chance. Wrong. It's bloody awful. An unremitting brown, thin, malt driven pint of boredom. Yes while awaiting the lovely E, I ordered a pint. Damn.

Last beer of the day was the in the Empress of Russia, probably our second nearest pub. Choice of two beers in this Shepherd Neame tied house. I'm not keen on Spifire, so Late Red it was. OK in that harsh one dimensional Shep's sort of way, but what the heck is an Autumn beer doing on in March?

So, a pleasant enough wander and some excellent beer. The best thing was the mental note to look out for beers from Green Jack, the excellence of the Gunmakers and one I missed above. Young's London Gold is perhaps underhopped, but was a good refresher and I reckon it'll sell. I need to try this again as a half possibly wasn't enough to make a long term judgement.

Today a long walk to Cask as recommended by Boak and Bailey. I'm expecting great things.

17 comments:

Sid Boggle said...

I think you'll like Cask, TM. Dark Star and Thornbridge, plus others from 8 beer engines. Kuppers Kolsch and other foreign beers on tap, and it's quite a nice space considering it's built into a council estate.

It's almost my local, and I live on the south side of the river...

Ed said...

I'll have to watch out for Mahseer, I loved Ind Coope's Burton Ale. Worrying news about the Old Mitre though.

Woolpack Dave said...

I find it an interesting feature of the more well known established beers that us beer geeks find uninspiring due to their blandness. I do wonder why the bigger breweries don't experiment with stronger flavours, perhaps they don't need to.

Velky Al said...

Dave,

I think that at the end of the day us beer geeks are the tiny minority of the customer base for a brewery like Fullers, especially a brewer with an extensive pub estate.

It would probably be commercial suicide to have a hundreds strong estate and then fill it with all manner of weird and wonderful beers, as much as we would appreciate it in the name of beer evangelism.

Perhaps though we should accept that there is a good reason why a lot of breweries make their 4% brown beer which doesn't strip your tongue of taste buds, that being that most people do not want that.

Mark, Real-Ale-Reviews.com said...

Had Apres Ski in Cross Keys Leeds this week and though it was unnervingly Roosters in taste it was uninspiring compared to YPA. And funnily enough I've always read good things about Doom Bar rather than criticisms and I haven't enjoyed it at all both times of tried it.

But hey ho, you win some you lose some, that's the joy of trying new things. I doubt the Apres Ski is one of Rooster's best sellers though and they may lose out to the alternatives at the pub when it's on

Tandleman said...

Got to agree with VA as a principle, but sometimes beer can just be too dull.

Whorst said...

Why are you not heading to The Rake?
Get your Scottish buns over there and give me a full report on West Coast Proper Real Keg!!

Sid Boggle said...

Col. Sausage, I can report no WCPRK available, unless you're interested in an aged container of SN Bigfoot. Which was nice...

zythophile said...

I've found Bengal Lancer fantastic in one pub and all right but unspectacular in two others: this really does seem to be a beer where cellarpersonship makes a huge difference.

Whorst said...

Proper Real Keg has let me down this evening. It doesn't do well sittin' around like it's cousin, cask ale. Shit pints of Hop 15 and Dales Pale Ale. I also get extremely pissed off when establishments serve West Coast Ales in fucking Belgian glasses!! This is because they can make more money on a smaller measure, not because of a moral consciousness. A certain amount of responsibility has to lie with the consumer. There is no perfect beer world. At times I'd just rather drink at home.

Whorst said...

Where the fuck are you Herr'man?!! Lets do some Haggis now!!!

Bailey said...

Hope you enjoyed Cask. I note from a Tweet that you didn't hate it, at any rate.

Agree with you about the Gunmakers: Jeff has a small but tasteful selection of ales and they're always in absolute tip-top shape.

Jonathan said...

Only had the Bengal Lancer at The Pilot Inn in Greenwich, but found it to be an impeccable, zesty IPA. Sorry you didn't find it in such good condition.

Tandleman said...

Jonathan, I'll try it again then.

Bailey. Full post on Cask now up.

Gazza Prescott said...

"found it to be an impeccable, zesty IPA"

You need to drink some proper IPA...

Paul Garrard said...

Green Jack are a brilliant brewery, Mahseer being one of the many great brews. I'm a big fan of their Orange Wheat, another one to watch out for!

Darren T said...

Had a pint of Bengal Lancer at the Doric Arch myself a couple of weeks back. Know exactly what you mean - pleasant enough, but not exactly spectacular. Only made it to the Gunmakers the once so far, but I'm in London for an overnight on Thursday and staying up in the Euston area, so I'll either be heading there or down to the Bree Louise, with any luck.