Didn't I read somewhere recently that smooth beer is getting some kind of makeover? Was it the relaunching of that foul rubbish Caffreys? I think it was. I dislike smooth bitters, as their blandness seems somehow emphasised and not in a good way, by nitogen. But you know what? I do sort of like - or rather, can just about live with - some smooth beer.
This is brought home to me on quiz nights, as in our leagues, there is a fair sprinkling of both Sam Smith's pubs and some working men's clubs. As a result, they serve smooth beer. I usually have to drive too, so my drink of choice is often smooth mild. Exotic delights such as Chestnut Mild, Sam's Dark Mild, Whitbread Mild, Bass Dark Mild , Hydes and Lees Dark Smooth for example weigh in at around 2.8% - 3.5%, with a lot of them nearer 3%, thus an ideal one for the driver. A couple of pints can be sipped safely over a couple of hours. The beer can often be way too cold, but as I can't have much anyway, I can allow it to warm up a bit, so it ekes it out further.
Not that I wouldn't prefer a cask conditioned version of the same beer presented in top nick, but when you are stuck, it isn't so bad, even as a distress purchase. Dark milds and stouts somehow tend not to suffer so much from nitrogen dispense and when in London and in Porterhouse Brewing, I am happy to drink my usual nitrogenated Wrassler's XXXX* stout without feeling that it would be better on cask, though obviously I'd love to try it in that form.
Not in London of course. Stout, like mild, without a tight creamy head just isn't the same and they just aren't savvy about that there.
*Of course that is a particularly good beer and not pasteurised, which certainly helps.
A bit of a CV. Tandleman is a veteran beer lover, local CAMRA Chairman and activist, beer writer, beer reviewer and pursuer of all things good in beer. He lives in the North West of England and London. Despite his CAMRA membership, he does not limit himself to cask conditioned beer, though he believes that cask conditioning, when done correctly and appropriately, brings a quality to beer that is hard to equal by any other kind of presentation. He is a strong supporter of Northern methods of beer dispense and avidly detests poorly presented beer and dislikes pasteurisation. He regularly visits Germany, has conducted corporate British and German beer tastings for CAMRA at the Great British Beer Festival where he has worked for years on Biere Sans Frontieres and was Deputy Organiser at CAMRA's very successful National Winter Ales Festival in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 and at the Manchester Beer and Cider Festival from 2013 to date. He admires good brewers wherever they are and has travelled extensively in pursuit of good beer to drink. He also judges beer at both the International Beer Challenge and the World Beer Awards.
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