I noticed that Cains FA was on sale in the Guest House last night. It used to be there quite often, but as I haven't seen it on the bar for a good while now, I decided to try a pint. I was very disappointed: it used to be a dry golden ale whose taste belied its strength (5%), and I usually stayed on it all night when it was available. Now it is a mediocre beer, dull-looking with a cloying flavour, and I really can't see much resemblance to the beer I used to like. The Cains website states: "A Golden coloured very 'English' golden ale with a beautifully smooth mouthfeel. Brewed with the finest English malts, the beer is brewed with a fuller flavour to delight the mouth and stimulate the tongue." Perhaps at one time, but not now.
I have been told that when Cains went into meltdown after their failed reverse takeover of Honeycombe Leisure caused them to be placed in administration in 2008, they couldn't get credit. As a result, the recipes went out of the window, replaced by the nearest approximations they could manage with whatever cheap ingredients they could lay their hands on for cash. I've no idea how accurate this is, but there's no doubt in my mind that the beers became uniformly mediocre at around that time.
With several good microbreweries in and around the Merseyside area producing far superior beers, Cains really needs to do a lot better if it wants to be a contender on the local real ale scene.