You don't encounter Draught Bass that often these days in my experience. I know of a couple of places where it is sold, but I wouldn't go there just to seek the beer out as such. It wasn't always so. I used to make many a pilgrimage to the White Star in Liverpool in the early eighties, where the Bass, from Burton Union sets was worth seeking out. The pub also sold Worthington and Bass Brew X as I recall, but I digress.
On a gorgeous summer's day last week, I was meeting a friend in Helensburgh, a town I know well from my youth in the West of Scotland. The Commodore Hotel is an imposing white building at the far end of this neat little riverside town. It has a magnificent beer garden and wonderful views across the Clyde to Greenock one one side and the Gareloch on the other. It has changed considerably since the days when me and my plooky chums from Dumbarton used to infest it on a Sunday night in the vain hope of attracting girls. It certainly didn't sell real ale then, but it does now and is considerably more tarted up. Cask Marque accredited too, so I ordered a pint of Harviestoun's Bitter and Twisted with confidence and took it outside to savour the view. It was cloudy - not the weather - but the beer. I knew it shouldn't be and sipped it cautiously. It tasted fine. Hmm. It was too good a day to bother taking it up with the barstaff, so I just got on with it. A few minutes later, on entering the bar once more to purchase a glass of wine for my companion, the barman who had been friendly and chatty, asked me what I thought of the beer. "It's a touch cloudy" I said, "but tastes fine". His face clouded like my beer. "It shouldn't be. Have something else". I demurred, he insisted, I chose Draught Bass and he went off to check the cask.
Outside it was hot and my half finished pint was starting to clear a bit. It had been a chill haze, albeit a quite severe one. Ah well. The barman had done the right thing and I had a free pint. That's the way it goes sometimes. As we sat chatting and watching a submarine, surrounded by escort vessels, slowly enter the navigation channel and make its way at snail's pace to HM Naval Base Faslane, I sipped my Bass. It was rich and malty, but really rather good. Oddly it seemed to suit the hot weather and as the afternoon slipped by, more Bass slipped down nicely.
It was pleasing to me that a beer with such a great past could still show its class and compete with a modern golden ale.Who'd have thought it? Not me I admit, but it did. The photo shows my pint before it cleared, which it did, though it took some time. I also wrote about Draught Bass here.
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 and at the Manchester Beer and Cider Festival from 2013 to date. He admires good brewers wherever they are and has travelled extensively in pursuit of good beer to drink. He also judges beer at both the International Beer Challenge and the World Beer Awards.
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