Monday, 17 January 2022

Iconic Beers Today

There aren't many cask conditioned beers that can be regarded as iconic these days I'd say. Oh, there used to be quite a few. Tetley Bitter would certainly be one of them and from the same stable, though a different brewery, who of those that supped it regularly, can forget Ind Coope Draught Burton Ale? So good that it became the Champion Beer of Britain in 1990 and a beer that if you saw it, you ordered it straight away, even if only for one pint, because it was one of those beers that was not only dangerously drinkable, but strong to boot. Draught Bass would be in there too and it, of course, despite being brewed by Marstons, still has a certain appeal. Talking of which, Pedigree could well be included.

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.


26 comments:

The Beer Nut said...

If you're accepting Johnnies-come-lately, I think Jaipur could be included in the stable of national contemporary classics.

Tandleman said...

I agree.

Sheffield Hatter said...

"Landlord, from my memory, needs a bit longer to mature than most. Maybe it just isn't being given the time."

This is my experience too. Your best bet is usually to stick to Timothy Taylor tied houses, or a pub with a reputation for letting the beers mature properly in the cellar. Too many pubs, especially those that are food oriented, think that you can just put the barrel in the cellar and tap it straight away. Even Doom Bar improves for a few days in the cellar - not that I'm suggesting it would be up there as a modern classic!

Lizard Seer said...

If I go by the FB groups, today's beer drinkers (ironically not that young - most are in their early 30s) are more interested in cans of fruity sludge than classic beer styles. Still, what goes around comes around, eh?

Curmudgeon said...

Yes, I'd agree with Sheffield Hatter that all too often it seems to be served green, resulting in a muddy, indistinct flavour. Plus, as a "name" beer, it tends to get into chain pubs and dining pubs that don't really look after it properly.

So it's no longer a beer that leaps out at me from the bar, and indeed I tend to avoid it unless it's in a pub that I'm confident knows what it's doing.

Fred said...


There was a long-demolished pub on London Road in Manchester opposite to the entrance to Piccadilly railway station which sold superb Landlord in the mid-1980s. White Horse maybe ?

They sold the best pint of Landlord imaginable !

Fred said...


More recently, ie shortly before Covid, I had some really good TT ales at a tied house called the Town Hall Tavern in Leeds.

Mark said...

Oakham Citra is the beer I’ll drink anywhere I see it. A safe harbour on bars bristling with unfamiliar names. I’d regard that as a reasonably widespread modern classic.

Curmudgeon said...

@Fred - the Coach & Horses. Defined the term "basic". See here:

https://pubs-of-manchester.blogspot.com/2010/01/coach-horses-london-road.html

One of the comments says:

"I had the finest pint of Taylor Landlord in my life/ Never tasted better in thirty years."

Paul Bailey said...

Multi-layered, is certainly an apt description of the Landlord of yester-year, and today's pint lacks the complexity the beer once had.

Serving it too green, is one explanation, but I would also suggest the brewery dropped the yeast count, by allowing some of the maturation/conditioning to take place at the brewery.

When we first opened our off-license in 2001, the beer was practically volcanic, when first spiled. The soft spile was still frothing, gently away, the following day, and it was a further day before the beer was ready to be served.

By the time we sold the business, in late 2006, Landlord was just another bog-standard cask beer, that dropped bright in a matter of hours.

Fred said...


@Curmudgeon

Yes, that's the one. T T Landlord was superb. Thanks for reminding me of the pub's name - much appreciated !

IAN WORDEN said...

The Coach and Horses was one of the few outlets for Pollards, c.1980. A few doors to the left (viewed from Piccadilly station) was a very good curry place.

IAN WORDEN said...

Should have added - all gone now.

Anonymous said...

If you ever use the train from Manchester to visit Stockport, home of many fine hostelries, get off a stop early at Heaton Chapel. A few hundred yards away (remember them?) across the A6 is 'Heaton Hops'. Two or three times a year they have Landlord on tap. As fine a pint of Landlord as you will find. Check their Twitter feed for info....and I you see that it's on then don't hang about! Ian G.

Clive said...

When I started drinking (admittedly in the last millennium - 1970s in fact) Ruddles County was a much sought legendary brew

AP said...

When I lived in Mcr (late 80s) I'd walk what felt like miles uphill behind Victoria station to drink Landlord in the Queen's Arms on Honey St. Their other regular beer was Batemans XXXB; both were rarities in the city at that time.

Curmudgeon said...

Ruddles County was very much the poster boy for the early days of the real ale movement. It inspired other beers such as Wells Fargo and Everards Old Original, but a style that has gone out of fashion now.

retiredmartin said...

I agree with Will.

Jeff Pickthall said...

My recent consumption of Landlord suggests to me it is as good as ever. Drinking fantastic TTL outside the Red House in Newcastle in an unseasonably warm early Friday evening in October was the pub highlight of 2021. The bottled version is also fantastic, although its resemblance to the cask version is vague. It is more like a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale with British ingredients.

Beermunster said...

I'd say Jarl deserves inclusion as a modern iconic beer.

granata said...

Coach & Horses. Usually avoid TT Landlord these days, but had incredibly good pints of it in the Triton Inn, Sledmere recently. Rich, layered, complex, moreish.

Anonymous said...

The Staff of Life in Lydgate. Tim the landlord matures it for a long time in the cellar.

Ron Pattinson said...

I never saw the appeal of Ruddles County. Always thought it was way overrated, possible just because it was stronger than most Bitters.

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T'other Mudgie said...

T'other Paul,
Yes, and I well remember getting showered with Landlord venting a cask of it as Beer Warden at the November 1977 beer festival in Stafford.

Iconic beers and nobody's mentioned Bathams Best Bitter ?