Friday, 11 September 2009

Too much Brown Beer?

Is it me, or is something seriously wrong with English beer? I say that because I don't seem to have had a decent native pint since I returned from Munich two weeks ago. I know I drank a lot of beer out there, but I don't think my palate could have changed that much

Last Saturday's beers in the Golding Hop really weren't up to much, but it was Wednesday's CAMRA social that really did it for me. It was held at the Bullfinch in the Riverhead area of Sevenoaks. The pub has recently been acquired by McMullens of Hertford, and is the company's first, and only, pub in Kent. Three cask ales were on offer, one of which (Cask Ale 3.8%) was definitely passed its best. (we would have noticed this sooner if it hadn't been so chilled). The 4.3% Country Bitter, and the seasonal Googly (also 3.8%), were of acceptable quality, but really didn't do anything for me - Brown Beer at its worst.

On the way back to the station, a couple of us popped into the Halfway House. Ok it's a Greene King pub, but there is nowhere else in the vicinity following the sad, and totally unnecessary demise of the Farmers. We thought the Abbot would be alright but were proved wrong. It wasn't quite bad enough to return, but it had that stale fruitiness that strong beers can develop when they have been kept too long.

CAMRA business took me over to Sevenaoks again yesterday. The beer range in the Sennockian, (the JDW outlet) was decidedly disappointing, and the Bath Ales SPA was cloudy. The Polish relief manager, who knows us, and who should know better, kept insisting that this beer was normally cloudy. I told him it wasn't a wheat beer, and definitely was NOT supposed to be served cloudy, but he wouldn't have it! The Kings Mallard 5.2%? also had a strange taste to it, and by this time I was starting to think I would never get a decent pint of English ale. Most of the Sennockian's clientele seemed to be immoderately-dressed young girls. The manager was kept busy asking them for Proof of Age, but they weren't the type of customers who would be boosting his flagging beer sales!

We adjourned to the nearby Anchor afterwards, where the Harveys proved to be the best pint of the night, and indeed the preceding fortnight. Another time I would have probably been singing its praises, but my palate was definitely jaded following the SPA and Mallard experience.

Northern Blogger, Tandleman , refers to these tasteless and insipid Brown Beers as "Slutch", and I think he is right with this definition. By the way, I am not counting Harveys as Slutch, and neither I think would he. McMullens definitely qualify though, as do Shepherd Neame and Youngs, to name a few.


Curmudgeon said...

I had hoped "it's supposed to be cloudy" was a thing of the past :-(

Obviously cloudiness is normally a sure-fire way of getting a duff beer changed.

Tandleman said...

I quite like Harveys as you suspect, but more as a rare treat than a beer I'd like to sup all the time, but you hit my nail on the head here. While brown beers per se have nothing wrong with them, for me, too often, it is an alarm bell that tells me " you aren't going to like this".

This is the fault of brewers producing insipid brown liquid in the deluded belief that it is good. It isn't.

Ale Fan said...

I have to say that I think brown is a jolly nice colour for beer. Not as good as golden but far better than black!