In what will be seen by many as something of a strange move, global brewer, AB InBev are to reintroduce Bass Pale Ale into the UK on-trade market this December. The global giant claim that this will “reignite” the premium ale sector, but from what I can see, the move is more likely to cause confusion than anything else.
Bass Pale Ale will be a 5.1% ABV bottled pale ale, and will be brewed at the company’s Samlesbury plant in Lancashire. This relatively modern brewery was originally built and run by Whitbread, before the latter moved out of brewing to run businesses such as Costa Coffee and Premier Inns.
The “new” version Bass Pale Ale will be available in 355 ml bottles; a strange size, but one which is particularly suited for the export market. The beer will be promoted as a premium product, and will be made available to selected pubs.
There has been no mention so far of the off-trade, which is probably due to a weaker, 4.4% ABV version being available in both bottles and cans. Most major supermarkets stock at least one version (bottled or canned). This weaker “quaffing” version is brewed to the same strength as the legendary Draught Bass, which is contract brewed by Marston’s, at their Burton-on-Trent brewery, and for all I know, the cask and packaged versions may actually be derived from the same brew.
What is puzzling is that Samlesbury has been producing the “new” 5.1% ABV version for many years, but it has only been available for overseas’ customers.
You can probably see why I’m confused, but whilst I am encouraged that this “export” version of Bass is being made available to the home market, I would like to see AB InBev putting a lot more weight behind the promotion of Draught Bass (the cask version), so that this legendary ale, can once again take pride of place as a truly national, cask beer.
I appreciate that Draught Bass is regarded with reverence by several bloggers whose sites I visit, and I know that a number of them will go out of their way to find a pub which stocks the beer. There are a number of legendary Bass outlets, up and down the country, and the excellent article on the beer written by the “wickingman” on his website of the same name, will not only supply plenty of background information, but a downloadable guide will also point you in the right direction.
For Draught Bass to get this sort of attention, it is obviously a beer which not only commands respect, but also holds a deep-rooted affection in the hearts of us older beer drinkers. So much so that I wrote my own, highly personalised article about Draught Bass for an aborted project I was working on nearly 20 years ago. It runs to nearly 10 pages, so if I do decide to publish it, I had better do so in installments.
What do people think?