There is probably a case to be made for certain others. In its heyday, possibly Courage Directors, or maybe Theakstons Old Peculier, but that's about it. Of course, too, some beers were legendary in their own backyard, for example, Shipstones Bitter from Nottingham, Higsons Bitter from Liverpool, Holts Bitter from Manchester - you could likely include Bateman's XB - and many more. These though were, in the main, recognised as great beers, largely by local customers and some aficionados, while the ones mentioned in the first paragraph were much more widely available and were sought after when seen on the bar.
So what of now? Well, certainly I imagine Harvey's Bitter would be there. Fuller's London Pride would likely be in the mix and of course, perhaps above all, Timothy Taylor's Landlord. You don't see much of Fullers here in the North, which is kind of puzzling, and rarely do you hear of Harvey's appearing at a bar near here. But you do see Landlord all over the place. It is relatively speaking common. It also features in glowing and reverent terms on Twitter, in beer discourse, and is thought of very highly in almost every beery circle.Me and Taylor's Landlord have a bit of history. When I first came to this neck of the woods, a local free house used to sell it. It was on the way to Tesco when we did our weekly shop, and we always stopped on the way back for a couple. It was a rich, balance of malt and hops, with a distinctive floral touch. The term multi layered really did apply to it. Alas, the free house was sold to Robinsons and the then landlord presented me with the Landlord pumpclip as a farewell gift. I still have it. And that was that. No more readily available Taylor's. I have supped it in Keighley too over the years and when I saw it on a bar, I always tried it. E loved it too. Of course, there is a but. Over the years, it just hasn't retained its appeal somehow. It isn't the same.
The other night, we were caught in the rain and dashed into the nearest pub. Landlord was on the bar and we ordered it. It looked great, only to taste, it was ordinary. E said, "What's happened to this beer?" I had to agree. It isn't a one off. I can't remember when I last had a decent pint of it. Landlord, from my memory, needs a bit longer to mature than most. Maybe it just isn't being given the time. I know it is often sold too "green", but I don't think that was the reason. The vibrancy and that multi layered source of delight simply wasn't there and hasn't been for a long time.
None of this is to say that Landlord is a bad beer. It certainly isn't in any way, but I accept all things change and that some memories are rose-tinted. Possibly it is just me and E, but I don't see either of us ordering Landlord automatically again soon. And that's sad, but thanks for the memories.
The Landlord pumpclip in the photo isn't the one I mentioned above. It would take too much finding, but it is mine. The Ind Coope Burton Ale sign is my own too.
Sadly, the pub I mentioned above is no more either. It was the New Inn in Castleton. Robbies sold it for offices after a few years, which was a shame.