Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Happy New Year


A bit late I know, but I've been busy. Manchester Beer and Cider Festival doesn't arrange itself and I've had an unexpected urgent trip to Scotland, to visit my ill and elderly mother. Nonetheless, the greetings are heartfelt.

We'll come back to Manchester Beer and Cider Festival shortly, but since I've been in Scotland, a few thoughts about the land of the loch and the glen. Firstly, if you didn't know it, while Barr's Irn Bru - is allegedly Scotland's "Other National Drink" (reformulated or not and yes, in my short visit, I have met Scots who have bought and hoarded cases of the really sugary version, pending the usurping launch of the not quite so sugary version), Scotland's other National Drink is undoubtedly Tennent's Lager. it is everywhere and it is drunk and revered everywhere.  While John Smith's Smooth may be the go to beer of the early morning Wetherspoon's soak in England - in Scotland it is TL they line up when most of us have scarcely breakfasted.  In the hotel bar - and there are lots of them in Scotland - it is Tennents on the bar.  In the noisy public bar with inappropriately loud and shite music - another West of Scotland trait - Tennents is the drink of choice. Even in craft beer bars like Shilling Brewery, they sell Tennents. In other words, unless you sell Tennents, get out of town.  With very few exceptions, you must sell Tennents or die as a business.

Now there are other lagers available. Sometimes. Wetherspoons have lots of them, but they are, frankly, a sideshow. It is the big red  T that dominates, but it wasn't always so.  Back in my days in Scotland, Skol, Norseman, Harp, Usher's Golden Lager and of course, McEwan's Lager were all readily available. All gone - and while nowadays Stella and Kronenbourg pop up here and there, plus the odd foreign beer, in the standard lager department, Tennents is yer man. I used to drink it myself many years ago, usually in pint screwtop bottles and quite possibly as an affectation. I sort of liked Skol better, but that was then and in McEwan's houses, I drank McEwan's Pale Ale, also in pint screwtops, or if feeling flush"A big Whitbread". (I think they were first to abandon pint screwtops in favour of the crown cap. But I digress.)

So what does it taste like? Well, at its best, not bad at all, but over carbonation and sub zero temperatures can wreck it. On Friday last week in the Abbotsford Hotel in Dumbarton, it was over-carbonated and utterly tasteless. Last night when I missed my train, in the Station Bar in Helensburgh, it was full bodied, subtly hopped, not over gassed and very enjoyable.  You can't depend on it sadly, though that seems not to matter to most of its customers.

While the quality of the drinking establishment and the eardrum busting music in the Station Bar can be questioned, I can vouch, from no little experience, that they keep a decent pint of Tennent's Lager.

Sadly I missed out on the GBG entry, the Ashton, but Loch Lomond Brewery beer was top notch in the Henry Bell, though nudged aside by a torrent of gin. 

I do miss these old standard lagers too. Pint of Alloa brewed  Skol? Yes please.

I'll do @Mancbeerfest tomorrow. This train is a bit shoogly.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Who says CAMRA folk can't agree other beers ?. I actually had to have Tennents in the Good Beer Guide Clovenfords in Galashiels (no cask in winter, I think), and enjoyed it again.

Curmudgeon said...

At least one CAMRA luminary understands the appeal of mass-market lager. I get the impression that Tennents has achieved a kind of iconic "national drink" status that it didn't always have.

Edd Mather said...

Hi Tandleman ,
Is the Usher's Golden Lager an evolution of the old Graham's Golden Lager ?

Cooking Lager said...

You've come a long way TAND with this blogging. It's heartening to see a man of your lofty position in beer bloggery enjoy a good honest pint of cooking lager.

Tandleman said...

No Ed. That became Skol.

Edd Mather said...

Thanks Tand , appreciated !

The Maltese Penguin said...

In Drygate, one can drink unpasteurised Tennent's. It is near ubiquitous now, after a period of a Carling challenge. I remember the novelty of XXXX appearing in pubs. And also having Kestrel as an option.

Anonymous said...

I used to read the news on telly.
I can report than it was just about possible after three pints but you entered perilous territory after a fourth.

Anonymous said...

Of Tennents that is.
You could report live all night on the fall of the Berlin Wall after half a dozen Skols.

Velky Al said...

Ah Tennent's Lager, the tipple of choice for Uist teenagers swigging in the bus shelter on a Friday night, neither confirming nor denying the presence of the Lager Lovelies being a selling point (they were discontinued just after sly teenage bevvies became a thing for my friends and I).

When eventually we all got to have our first legal pints, usually in the Dark Island Hotel, it was a choice between sticking with the lager or becoming a Guinness drinker - being the kind of 18 year old who considered myself an aesthete, I had my first pint of the black stuff and abandoned lager until I moved to Prague...