Someone was reminiscing about this recently and averring that you can still get a decent pint of it here and there. Now putting aside "here and there" and even "now and then" which is implied, what is it like now in a pub that sells it a lot and has done for a long time? The opportunity to find out came up over the Christmas period when I had a drink with a few friends. As it was on the way back to the bus stop, one suggested, "Why not pop in to the Unicorn and try a pint of Bass?" So we did.
The Unicorn is a splendidly old fashioned pub near the Arndale Centre and attracts a mixed clientèle. It very much reminds me of how pubs used to be and particularly, though I don't suppose they'd thank me for the comparison, of pubs in Liverpool when I lived there. Solid and attractive, it sits on a corner with an opened out interior that still contains some separate rooms and certainly separate drinking areas, served by a circular bar. You can see where the passageway once was and the rooms off it are still there in the main. There is young and old there, rich and poor, the chancer and the man in best attire with his daughter, surrounded by shopping. Her Christmas presents I'd guess. Some racing paper lads, some market traders, some like us because it is near the bus stop and some types whose eye you weren't keen to catch. A proper pub.
We brought our pints into the the back room and surveyed the beer. Served in Bass glasses, the beer was a mid brown and served Northern style. It smelled sweet and malty with just a hint of hops. And that's how it tasted too. It was in great nick and I could have drank a few. We all enjoyed it, but to me it wasn't the Bass of yesteryear, but that was hardly a surprise.
Is Bass part of the present or the past. It is a ghost of its former self, so the past I'd say, but it was nice to drink it again nonetheless.
My recollection is that Draught Bass used to be a fair bit darker than it seems to be now.
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. He admires good brewers wherever they are and has travelled extensively in pursuit of good beer to drink.
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