Back in the old days of Usenet and rec.food.drink.beer (a discussion group on all things beery, mostly involving Americans, but a healthy smattering of Brits and others) the merits of beer were, tongue in cheek, boiled down to is "Is good or is it shite?" That sort of still works today if you put aside all caveats, qualifications and ifs and buts.
A few short weeks ago I had the pleasure of presenting our Club of the Year Award to Dobcross Band and Social Club. We enjoyed a most convivial afternoon there. Beers on sale were Lees Bitter, Bradfield Farmer's Blonde and Morland Original Bitter. All were in splendid form. Now Morland used to brew in Abingdon in Oxfordshire and were famous for Old Speckled Hen and Hen's Tooth, now of course brewed by Greene King who took them over in 1999 and closed them in 2000. I hadn't seen Morland Original Bitter in this neck of the woods - or in fact, anywhere else - and it seems possible that the beer has been recently resurrected by GK. If you know more, do tell me.
Of course I commented on this on Twitter with a rather provocative comment, just to see if I could raise a Pavlovian reaction to this Greene King brewed beer:
Now it seems that GK are not exactly loved on Twitter. Is this fair? I rather like their beers when they are served in the peak of condition. With the demise of Tetley Bitter, I rather miss the lactic finish that beer had and the nearest thing to it is GKIPA though admittedly I rarely see it up here. That beer is often despised by what I decribed as the "Beer Bubble" but actually by many more sensible people too. This new version of Morland Original Bitter wasn't a million miles from its orginal taste, described in the 2000 Good Beer Guide as "Copper coloured with plenty of bittering hops and hints of fruit. Subtle aroma and a short, dry, bitter finish." OK it didn't have a subtle aroma, but rather, the lactic tang of GKIPA. Nonetheless, I liked it. It was well made, very well kept and at a sensible 4% abv, suitable to be rattled down by the pint. Most certainly not shite.Not shite at all. Unless you are in the beerbubble. Then it is shite. pic.twitter.com/Vq9kjwFxyo— Tandleman (@tandleman) July 20, 2019
I wonder too if Greene King, now that they have outlets all over the UK, including many in the North, are looking for something that can be readily drunk in those parts of the country where their core beers aren't well received? I know of one local licensee in my neck of the woods, a former Spirit Group pub with "reserved rights" to guest beers, had a strict admonishment from the Area Manager asking why sales of Greene King are so poor. He was able to answer honestly, that it was because nobody liked them. Oh and the result of my provocation? Well I didn't get a lot to be honest, but I liked the one that simply said "I like my beer bubble where Greene King beers are shite"
So do GK get a fair crack of the whip beerwise? Let me know what you think.
If you want to see some of the orginal good or shite debate here is some of the original argument back in the dog days of the group in 2001. One or two well known names there too.
Sparkling the Morland beer didn't do it any harm either. Yet another case to be made for God's chosen method of dispense.