Wednesday, 1 August 2012

The Triumph of Experience Over Hope

There are three pubs within a four minute walk of my London flat. Good news you'd think. Well yes and no. I'll concentrate on two of them. A while ago I posed the question about what you do if you like the pub, but don't like the beer. You'll find it here.  Last night we had a small wander round a few of our local pubs.  I had hoped to find Fullers Wild River in the Chamberlain Hotel, but alas it wasn't on and the place was, as it always seems to be, depressingly empty.  We made our excuses and left and whizzed round to the pub at the top of our road, The Dispensary.  Now we've always found this to have inordinately warm beer and thus it was last night. I like Adnam's Ghost Ship, but not served this way. It is a long time fault of this place. I've given it umpteen goes and it isn't getting any better, so why throw money away? Well we won't be. It is off the list.

The nearest pub, by a few yards is the Princess of Prussia.  That's the one I wrote about above. We had the usual warm welcome - that's one of the reasons we like it - and were given a recommendation. Kent's Best Invicta Ale. Now Shep's website describes it thus: "An ambient bitter, which successfully merges the biscuity sweetness of English malt with the fruity, floral bitterness of locally grown hops from the Kent countryside, to give a clean, satisfying and moreish drink ( to quaff, effortlessly, among friends)." It is written by no less than Ben McFarland.  Well he must have been drinking a different beer to me. It was the usual harsh Shep's taste of thin malt and incredibly weedy hops, this time with a good dash of burnt caramel.  Horrid.  Now in fairness, I just don't get on with Shep's cask beers. I have tried and tried and now I'm giving up. At London prices - or even at any price - for me at least, it is a waste of money. Eileen has been more than once bitten by Shep's and is now very shy indeed. She had a half of Oranjeboom Lager.  As I grumbled my way through the Kent's Best, I tasted E's beer. It was clean, full bodied and not overcarbonated.  Quite drinkable in fact.

We really like the pub, so will be back. Next time though, I'll drink Oranjeboom.

We didn't have a chance to try the jukebox mentioned in the original article. There is a jukebox hogger in there,but actually he chooses quite well.


Curmudgeon said...

Is "an ambient bitter" one served at room temperature? ;-)

Tandleman said...

I wondered what that meant too.

Tyson said...

Altogether now...Oranjeboom, it's a lager, not a tune.

Tandleman said...

E was singing it last night. Must be strong stuff!

Neville Grundy said...

While there's life, there's hope. - Cicero.

But on the other hand:

He that lives upon hope will die fasting. - Benjamin Franklin

So, take your pick.

Paul Bailey said...

"It was the usual harsh Shep's taste of thin malt and incredibly weedy hops." Your words, Tandleman describe exactly the reason I avoid Shep's. They have some smashing pubs, and by rights they ought to brew good beer as well, but somehow they don't, and haven't done so since the late 80's/early 90's.

Their beers are over-attenuated, leaving them thin and lacking in body. They appear to use high alpha acid hops, which they boil for far too long, leaving an unpleasant, stewed, harsh bitterness in the finished beer.

I don't know where this "floral bitterness" that Ben Mc Farland waxes about, comes from. It was there, once upon a time, (it was certainly evident back in the 70's) before their Bitter mutated into Master Brew, but it certainly ain't there now.

I think I wil follow your lead Tandleman, and give the Oranjeboom a try the next time I find myself in a Shep's pub!

Tandleman said...

I thought you'd be tempted to comment Paul. I have tried and tried, but I'm giving up on Shep's until there is a change.

Paul Bailey said...

I couldn't resist commenting Peter, and I'm not the only one in this neck of the woods who feels the same about Shep's. A real shame, as they've got some smashing pubs, and a good track record when it comes to supporting struggling rural outlets. I'd love to know why their beer changed the way it did 20 or so years ago, and why they can't go back to brewing it as it once was.

Anonymous said...

thanks for sharing.