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Saturday, 27 September 2014

Gold 'n' Brown

I own a pre-Thwaites Lancaster
Bomber pump clip like this one
I popped into the Mount Pleasant, my nearest pub, last night. The two real ales on were Andwells Gold Muddler (3.9%) and Thwaites Lancaster Bomber (4.4%). There was also Old Rosie cider, but I don't drink cider very often after accidentally over-indulging at the Wigan beer festival a few years ago.

The Gold Muddler was a pleasant enough blonde beer, touch of citrus and all that, that I had no problem drinking but it was nothing memorable. Then I switched to the Lancaster Bomber. I've had this beer many times before, and as usual it was slightly malty with noticeable bitter aftertaste. It struck me that it was very like the better beers that we had in the 1970s. I think I might be getting tired of many blonde and golden beers that don't offend but which lack any distinct flavour, because I particularly enjoyed my pints of Bomber - 1970s nostalgia, I wonder?

Lancaster Bomber was originally brewed by Mitchells of Lancaster, and was seen as their flagship beer at the time; the 4.4% strength seemed quite strong at the time. In 1999, Mitchells decided to close their brewery to concentrate on their pubs and hotels, and the brand was acquired by Thwaites who have brewed it ever since. I note that the strength remains the same.

Chatting later in the evening in another pub, the Guest House, a friend saw me ordering a pint of Phoenix Arizona (4.1%) which according to the website is, "Dry as a desert. Refreshing as an oasis." I'm not sure, but it doesn't seem as dry to me as it used, but is still worth drinking nonetheless. My friend commented that he preferred brown, malty beers such as London Pride and Spitfire, and it is perhaps too easy for beer aficionados to forget how well such beers do sell well. Perhaps they deserve some reappraisal; as Meer For Beer once colourfully wrote, not everyone wants to be slapped in the face by their drink.

These thoughts were reinforced by a pint of Brains Craft Brewery's Atomic Blonde, which the brewery describes as, "A burst of tropical fruit aromas leads to flavours of peach and sweet grapefruit to create a refreshing beer with a balanced bitterness." I detected no burst of anything, and it seemed inoffensive and bland, not unlike quite a few blonde and golden beers nowadays. I also wonder about the carbon dray print of beers brewed from hops imported from the other side of the world.

Of course, it needn't be an either/or situation. It is possible to enjoy good traditional bitters as well as the better golden and blonde beers. Quality is surely more important than style.

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