Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Poor London Pride


I'm not that big a fan of London Pride though I recall way back years ago when the Marble Arch sold it, it was a beer to actively seek out.  When I say way back, I'm talking over 25 years ago.  Was my enjoyment of it because of its comparative rareness, or was it simply better then?  Or maybe we had simpler tastes back in the good old days when hops were a background addition to beer and not the main star?  Now it seems one dimensional and sweet, but hey ho, that's how some people like it. What I have noticed though, in the few times I have had it recently, is how thin and generally unappealing it has become - to my palate at least.  It doesn't refresh, it cloys. Admittedly most of those times have been in Wetherspoon in London when there has been nothing else I fancy on.  When I've moaned on Twitter, I have been advised that I should only have it in Fuller's pubs. I've tried that and really don't find it any better there.

I wonder if the beer really has got worse, or if, in these days of vast choice,  I've simply become far more picky? In fact, have too many of us, rather than being discerning, just become too hard to please?


Worryingly, I tend to think the same of Lees Bitter these days too, relying instead on their seasonals or Manchester Pale Ale

25 comments:

Bailey said...

What else would you expect me to say? It's a bit of both.

I've had a couple of absolutely fantastic pints in the last few months -- orangey, fruity, really exciting in that old skool cask ale way -- but also quite a few duds which tasted like a more watery version of Doom Bar.

I can't see how or why Pride, Lees Bitter and Timothy Taylor would all have got worse in recent years, and can only put it down to the fact that we've all become rather more choosy. (Or spoiled.)

Cooking Lager said...

It’s a deep philosophical question. You have noticed change but ask have you changed or it? All you know for certain is that change has occurred, but that is as expected for all is process. Nothing is fixed, the universe is process.

It is for these types of questions people come to beer bloggery. Substance metaphysics holds that the foundations of reality are things, substances and universal forms. In contrast, process metaphysics holds that no stable foundation to reality can be found, and everything we observe is the aspect of a process or processes.

As you are the enlightened one, it is from you we expect the answer, but as all you offer is the question, I ponder whether the answer is the journey we must all take. The path of the tandleman. The path of beery enlightenment. From that the answer is our own enlightenment.

It begins with Lees Bitter or in the Spoons?

John said...

Peter
I think the fact that you have drank Pride over a 25 year period is key. In that period your taste buds will have changed.
What ever your beer of choice is now in 25 years time you will have a different opinion
I know I am not the taster I was 25 years ago. Change is a fact of life

liam said...

I'm afraid that Pride, like Bombardier and GK IPA are pish and always have been.

Erlangernick said...

Don't like the idea of a universe wherein the Pride isn't drinking well!

Matt Curtis said...

Sounds like a classic case of Lupulin Threshold Shift to me. Only cure is to avoid beer for a month and then make sure this is the first beer you have once the months through.

Fresh, recently tapped Pride is something I still enjoy immensely though and one of the first cask ales I learned to love in my early 20's!

Cooking Lager said...

I would contend that you are safe, Nick, under a quantum multiverse where all possible outcomes are individual universes. As the pride can never be drinking badly today, no possible universe can exist where the pride is anything other than drinking well. Our universe must share the same basic origin as all others.

However in a quilted multiverse, in an infinite amount of space, every possible event will occur an infinite number of times. In one of those universes the pride will be smooth keg bitter made by a still operating Watneys. You will thankfully never encounter be able to drink this pride, as the speed of light prevents you visiting these planets

Curmudgeon said...

I wonder whether the ability of cellarmen to coax the best out of cask beer is something that has reduced in recent years.

It may be rarer to get utterly dreadful beer, but somehow a lot of cask beer comes across as a bit flat flavour-wise.

Is beer maybe often served a bit too green?

john A said...

Best pints of Pride in London are Star Tavern SW1 and Churchill Arms W8. Never had a bad pint in either of these Fullers pubs. In my opinion Pride is better from a Fullers pub ( more control). I was told on a Fullers brewery trip about 20 years ago. To report any bad or average pint ( fullers or free trade) to the brewery, they reckon they have someone around in 24 hours and if need be take the beer off. Not sure if that is happening now.

Jeff Alworth said...

I think Matt has the correct diagnosis. One of the first craft brands in the US was Full Sail Amber. People who first had it in the mid-80s thought it positively glowed with hops. Over the years, Full Sail took no end of hell for having "dumbed it down." Of course, they hadn't. People got used to hops, and 30 IBUs stopped seeming like freight train.

I think there's a cycle, though. You can get sick of hops, too. At this point, I rarely drink IPAs and hoppy beers. Two years ago, when I visited England for the first time, I thought London Pride was one of the finest beers I've ever had. (I'd easily put it on my top 20.) There's a way in which the modest level of those flavors, after all the screaming intensity of American beers, had a chance to express themselves fully, to unfold and blossom. It's not an intense beer, and if you're in the mood for intensity, I can see how it would seem pallid.

But I'm mostly done with brewing bombast. Give me minor-key masterpiece like London Pride instead.

Tandleman said...

Ah yes, but I spend most of my time drinking ordinary enough beers.I love hoppy beer, but I drink pints of mostly golden beer which is rarely over hopped.

I do think that both Pride and Lees Bitter have become sweeter though I do agree with other comments too about palate change.

M.Lawrenson said...

I remember the good old days when Deuchars IPA was hoppy. Now it tastes like water. Nothing to with all that Punk, Jaipur and Adnams Innovation I've had in the meantime. Nothing at all. Harrumph.

Curmudgeon said...

I discussed this issue in this column from last year.

One of the points I made was that wider distribution tends to lead to a reduction in the average quality of cellarmanship applied to a beer, so it may generally taste less good even if there has been no change to the recipe.

The Man That Time Forgot said...

London Pride, my favourite pint bar none, and that's coming from a Southerner whose taken the Yorkshire shilling for too many years. Best drunk around West London in Fuller's Pubs only as no one else serves it better. I want one right now,you beautiful beer

Anonymous said...

I live a couple of miles from the brewery and having drank it for 35 years I would agree with you.Sweet and cloying and sometimes flavourless.Having tried it 3 times this year only because I sometimes read blogs saying how good it is.The head brewer will tell you its still the same beer but minute changes every year add up to big changes over the last 15 or 20 years.Fullers have a Past Masters series of beers that are very good.Pride comes under the Past Glories series. cheers john

Erlangernick said...

When der Tandelmann can find so much to enjoy in watery Edelstoff, there can really be no question of his palate having become over-hopped.

jesusjohn said...

I find Pride an unforgiving beer for poor handlers - so generally find myself agreeing with Mudge here. Likewise when the press went gaga for "Material Girl" Madge's favourite drop being Landlord - suddenly Timmy Taylor's finest was good for dousing on chips in All Bar Ones up and down the land. Of Pride, I've "only" (blimey I'm getting on...) been drinking it 15 years and can't say I've noticed much difference in well served pints. Ye Olde Mitre in Ely Court is my preferred Pride sup point.

jesusjohn said...

Pride does most of its maturing in the tank and barely has a secondary fermentation though, right? (I mean enough yeast to satisfy a real ale definition but blah blah yadda yadda) - does that shorten the shelf life? Would explain why only pubs with a direct supply are reliable outlets (also my exprience).

Tandleman said...

JJ. Lack of viable yeast would have a negative effect on beer's keeping properties. It is years since I looked after a cask of Pride, so wouldn't know what's in the bottom - if anything?

Anyone else know?

Nick: I will likely have the chance to compare Edelstoff with Augustiner Vollbier next week, but I don't think your dislike of Edelstoff is proof enough for me.

Stono said...

Deuchars was hoppier and Im convinced Tribute now is an entirely different beer to the one I was drinking a decade ago :)

that aside, I dont think Pride has changed, it certainly tasted pretty good at the brewery the other month when I paid a visit,but equally yep it probably was the best pint of it Ive had for a while as I seem to have picked up a habit of finding fairly average London pubs with disappointing London pride on and then when I do pick a decent pub, actually London Pride is the least likely beer Id pick faced with an array of tens of other beers Ive not tried.

its still I believe one of the top selling beers in one of my local pubs, which given we are a good 70miles away from London is pretty remarkable,so there must be a knack of keeping it, but one thats quite unforgiving or maybe just different from the norm

which is I believe what nearly ruined Taylors Landlord following the Madonna thing, as it uses a particularly aggressive yeast that needs to be handled with alot of care to get the best out of it, its a tricky beer to keep, and of course loads didnt in that mini fad, hence the market was flooded with lots of bad examples. Fortunately in recent years it seems to have gone back to its prior existence and if you do see it on, you know you should be in a pub that cares about their beer because they just wouldnt keep it otherwise.

Erlangernick said...

Tand: Are you visiting again...ah, wait, it's the GBBF furn muck bar! Are both draught? Either way, I could conceivably send you a few bottles of better, more interesting examples of beers from around here called "Export" to compare with the Edelstoff, so you can see what you're missing.

Shipping from down here is cheap. Other way round...

critch the brewer said...

i definately think peoples expectations on beer have changed,20 years ago summer lightning and pale rider were game changers now they're just another couple of pale ales....

David Nicholls said...

No disrespect but its got to be an age thing my old Mum is always saying this or that doesn't taste the same anymore. I like Pride and I particularly like Chiswick Bitter, but don't see that as often as I used to.

Martyn Cornell said...

Liam is an idiot.

I've been drinking Pride for 40 years, and it's still – when properly looked after – one of the best pints in the world.

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