Real Ales (including mass produced ones)

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Cowley, 6 Aug 2019.

  1. Cowley

    Cowley Established Member

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    Ok all you Real Ale experts.
    It’s time to put your money where your mouth is and have a sensible reasoned discussion on this topic...
    I went up to our virtual bar earlier and these six were on tap:

    1) Bishops Finger
    2) Abbot
    3) Tool Doom Bar
    4) Otter
    5) Old Speckled Hen
    6) Hobgoblin
    (7) Add your own here)

    Are these all mass produced cack that you wouldn’t touch with a barge pole? Or do some of these have redeeming features and make a pretty decent pint?

    I’m not going to pretend I’m an expert because I’m not.
    I’m very much in the consumption area of the the whole real ale thing...
    If I go to the bar I’m usually looking to try something interesting, and I like trying stuff that I haven’t tried before because I like the different tastes, but I’m not so obsessed that I’d be ticking them off on some kind of spreadsheet...
    What are your opinions?
    And feel free to broaden the discussion if you think it’s an interesting subject.

    Hic
     
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  3. Puppetfinger

    Puppetfinger Member

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    Being of West Country disposition I suppose I must declare some bias, but would happily drink the Doom and Otter.

    Whilst Molson Coors own Sharps, all cask Doom Bar is still brewed in the original brewery in Rock, however bottled Doom is produced at Burton upon Trent, and I can certainly tell the difference. I drank lots of Doom whilst it was the small niche beer of Cornwall, and whilst I don't drink it very often now, I must admit that a Pint from a well looked after cask and cellar is still a lovely drink.

    Otter is very good, although have to admit I don't see it that often where I drink.

    I would definitely class Doom and Otter as very different to the rest listed. As a strange comparison, Otter and Doom are a craft, artisan Lager compared to the rest being the likes of Carling and Stella.
     
  4. asharpe

    asharpe Member

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    In Spoons pubs up north I have found that Doom Bar is always served though a sparkler and I think it ruins the taste and feel of the drink. But when fresh and pulled straight I love it and bar staff are always accommodating in that regard.

    Old Speckled Hen seems to me to be brewed for the bottle, either that or it's always a bit too slow to be shifted and I get it a few days past its prime.

    Hobgoblin I find travels and keeps well and I can be assured of a good pint whenever I see it.

    Otter Ale doesn't make it to these parts often but I enjoy a pint whenever in the south west.

    Bishops finger and Abbot seem ubiquitous in the south east, but they must be very cheap to the trade to see them as often as I do up north.
     
  5. Cowley

    Cowley Established Member

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    Thanks for those two posts. Quite informative for a non expert...
     
  6. Marton

    Marton Member

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    Landlord definitely best, it can travel well, but not always. .

    Old Golden Hen is my preference Over speckled.
     
  7. GusB

    GusB Established Member

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    I once bought a bottle of Bishop's Finger in a supermarket in Calais (mainly because the name conjured up juvenile sniggers), and I wasn't particularly impressed when it came to drinking the stuff. Having said that, it was early on in my beer drinking career and probably still had a preference for cider at that point. I haven't seen the stuff on tap anywhere around here.

    Old Speckled Hen is one that I have seen, and probably tried. Hobgoblin and Abbot, maybe - they sound familiar, but I don't recall (as often happens when beer and I mix).

    This side of the border, the most common "standard" real ales were usually Caley 80/- and IPA. Both drinkable enough if kept well, and if I didn't recognise any of the other ales on offer, I'd usually go for something I knew I'd like.

    My current favourite is probably Inveralmond Brewery's "Ossian", but sadly my local only has keg offerings (Tennent's, John Smith's and Guinness) so I don't get to try them very often unless I buy bottled.
     
  8. DarloRich

    DarloRich Veteran Member

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    1-6 = NO
     
  9. Cowley

    Cowley Established Member

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    And this sort of takes me onto another thing that I wonder about sometimes...
    How do we know that we’re actually experts in such things..?
    I’m sure that we’ve all seen a few blindfolded wine tasting moments on telly when someone who’s an expert in such things can’t tell the difference between a 1964 Château Lafite, and a six quid bottle of red plonk from Sainsbury’s...
    I don’t want to be that guy. I’m really not sure what’s what and I’m happy to be educated (there’s worse things in life to learn about by tasting).
    Like all these things though there can be an element of snobbishness if you dare to say that you like a certain brand of beer/wine etc.

    I’m also curious to know what you’d most likely find on tap in your local boozer if you didn’t live in my part of the world?
     
  10. Cowley

    Cowley Established Member

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    Aha! :D
    We have a firm opinion from (surprisingly); a chap called Rich from Darlington (or possibly Milton Keynes)...
    He’s probably gone to bed by now (well he should have), but I’d be interested on his take on this subject.
    He strikes me as exactly the kind of person that would look at you with dismay as he asked everyone what they were having and you said “I’ll have a pint of Doom Bar please”.
    He’d quite possibly bring it back to the table and pour it over your head in fact...
    Although you’d never be quite sure what you’d done to upset him as he’d never talk to you properly again.
    So Darlo. What should we have ordered? Some of us need help here...
    (And even I wouldn’t have asked for Doom Bar ;))
     
  11. GusB

    GusB Established Member

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    I've been in a few situations where I've been a pub and when asked what I'm drinking, the person who's buying has flatly refused - "I'm not asking for that"! It's not as if I'd asked for a sloe comfortable screw...

    Ahem.

    Living in Scotland, it's mostly Scottish ales that I'm exposed to, but I did once receive a basket of ales from the Black Sheep Brewery as a thank you for pet-sitting, and I found them to be quite enjoyable. Golden Sheep was one that I particularly liked. There was also one called Riggwelter whose name apparently is derived from the situation where said animal ends up on its back, unable to get up!

    There may be a theme going on here, but along similar lines, Cairngorm Brewery do a beer whose name may breach forum rules...
    https://www.cairngormbrewery.com/beers/sheepshaggers-gold/

    Maybe it's my Aberdonian origins. Baaaaa.
     
  12. Kojo87

    Kojo87 Member

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    London Pride is the No1 for me but being on a budget of late Aldi's have some called Jesse James and Wild Bill and a few others which seem to hit the spot .
     
  13. pdq

    pdq Member

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    In London* I'll go for London Pride, especially if in a Fullers pub. If I see Landlord on the pumps that will normally trump anything else. Otherwise I will usually try something I'm unfamiliar with, especially if local.

    *Had a pint of Pride in Leeds last year, served with the sparkler. It was horrible, and I got some funny looks when I asked for a second to be poured flat, but what a difference to the taste.

    Opening out the question, what about 'craft' beers and lagers? I'm quite partial to Brew Dog Punk IPA. They've gone a bit mainstream now - by virtue of having a very good product I think, but still a characterful, individual taste.
     
  14. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    I must admit, the beers listed aren't what I would normally drink, being generally either too strong or too dark for my taste.

    Bishops Finger is probably one I'd prefer, it having quite a pleasent taste in spite of its strength.

    Both Shepherd Neame (Finger) and Sharps (Doombar) have lesser known beers that I would prefer - Spitfire and Atlantic Ale respectively.

    I never could get on with Old Speck (tastes too strong) and Hobgoblin (too dark).

    Can't remember what Otter's like so can't comment.

    My ideal pint would be light, a bit (but not too) hoppy and around 4.5%, but none of the above quite fit into that bracket. Not to say they're not perfectly good ales for what they are.
     
  15. PeterC

    PeterC Established Member

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    None are ones that I would drink normally. These days I most commonly drink Camden Pale but for preference, on the rare occasions when I am in a Harvey's pub several pints of their dark mild go down very nicely.
     
  16. 4141

    4141 Member

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    I suppose I'm being snobbish, but I preferred Doom Bar when it was a rarity anywhere north of Bristol...one of my favourites, sticking with Cornish beers, is Padstow May Day - failing that, I've had several good Tintagel Brewery ales and at £1.99 a pint in Spoons (St Ives and Newquay) as an added bonus!
     
  17. DarloRich

    DarloRich Veteran Member

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    Where to start!

    Firstly, I am northern. Therefore proper, northern, working men's brown ale is best. On that there can be no discussion.

    Secondly, I will try anything. Last weekend was Rhubarb ale and i have even found some southern ales I like!

    If i walk into a pub and there is only Doom Bar ( which was quite nice till they sold out to the man) I will have a bottle of lager. i cant stand boring, mainstream ale when there is so much good stuff out there and I cant stand brew dog. All style, no substance. I relaise that my tastes will not be the same as everyone else but PLEASE try to look wider than the mainstream rubbish out there. There are so many good local beer shops, bars and breweries out there. Go and find them and explore.

    So what do i like? My favorite breweries are:

    • Maxim Brewery (Sunderland)
    • Mordue (Newcastle)
    • Ilkely
    • Ossett
    • Timothy Taylor
    • Hornes Brewer ( MK)
    • Blackened Sun Brewery ( MK)
    • Williams Bros
    • Cairngorm
    • Orkney
    • Swannay Brewery (Orkney)
    • Saltaire
    • Castle Rock
    • Exmoor
    • York Brewery
    • Leeds Brewery
    • Harviestoun
    • Titanic Brewery
    • Brass Castle (Malton)
    • Hadrian Border
    • Shepherd Neame ( Shamefully)
    • Skinners (Truro)
    • Harveys ( Sussex)
    • Tyne Bank


    Beer should always be served with a sprinkler otherwise you get a pint of flat, horrible, southern dishwater.

    Horrible.

    Horrible

    Acceptable - bit thin and insipid for me

    Horrible mass market tosh

    Decent. Proper Yorkshire ale

    Wouldn't drink either. Awful.

    All three are awful

    Good choice.


    Black Sheep was very nice and was often superb when i lived in North Yorkshire but is now only OK as they seem to have lost their mojo and gone away from making decent Yorkshire ale to trying to attract clueless trendy craft ale beady hipsters of the type who think Brew Dog is the best thing since sliced bread.

    Riggwelter is still a good drop. They haven't messed that up like they have their best. It is a disgrace that a decent brewery like Black Sheep is knocking out rubbish like a golden ale. They make a bloody IPA now ffs. Shameful.

    Good call. Cairngorm is a good drop.

    London Pride is awful. The quintessential cockney ale.

    I would only ever drink London Pride in an emergency. Awful southern rubbish.

    None of the above thank you. Awful. Bishops Fingers is about the only one worth considering

    Harveys is a good drink, even if it is southern!
     
  18. Puffing Devil

    Puffing Devil Established Member

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    I was brought up on Wm Younger's No3 and Taylors Landlord. Throw in the occasional pints of Pedigree, Bass, Boddies and Tetley and I was very happy.

    All that's reasonably left is Landlord and it's still my favourite Real Ale. My preference has shifted for lighter, hoppier beers and my first HopBack Summer Lightning was a revelation. I'll happily drink Dizzy Blonde and MPA (Manchester Pale Ale) when in the north. Titanic has some great beers and Plum Porter is fantastic. Conditioning has left me thinking that southern beer without a sparkler lacks a certain something.

    Moving away from real ale, I'm a big fan of BrewDog and will always gravitate to Punk IPA in a 'spoons. Any other light, hoppy IPAs suite my palate - I can't be doing with chocolate marshmallow stout bollox though.

    I tried some (mass market!) Lagunitas Daytime IPA (4%) and was blown away with the flavour.

    Then again, I was drinking Stella in a crappy pub in North London a couple of days ago as there was no proper beer and the weather was roasting. Horses for courses!
     
  19. GusB

    GusB Established Member

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    Bass is one I haven't seen for a good while - has it disappeared completely? It's also interesting that you mention Younger's No.3; I'm sure I recall a McEwan's No.3 from my dim and distant student days - was this the same beer rebranded? One of my regular pubs was (JJ)Booth's in Back Wynd in Aberdeen, and they had a fairly good selection of real ales. McEwan's 80/- was my usual, but I would go for the No.3 if that wasn't available.
     
  20. Puffing Devil

    Puffing Devil Established Member

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    Bass is still brewed, now at Marstons, where the water is one of the key ingredients, and why so many breweries were there, just as Tadcaster hosts a number of breweries. It did have a brief sojourn to the Midlands and it still not the same beer, just as when Boddies was ripped out of Manchester. It has the same recipe, there's something in the terroir that's missing. I'm not sure if Bass is brewed using the Burton Union System - Pedigree still is.

    I only drank as far as Newcastle and can't recall a McEwans No. 3, and they were different breweries. Youngers was a very dark mild, almost as black as Guinness. Very smooth and easy for a teenager to drink. It's gone due to the demise of the brewery, which seems to be a recurrent tale.
     
  21. Clip

    Clip On Moderation

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    Im much more towards the IPA side of the market as some of them are fantastic but along my travels up north ive found some cracking ales about

    Some like it Blonde from the Worsthorne Brewery in Burnley is a nice Blonde(see what they did there) and their Old Trout is a delight too so well worth checking out if you see any from them on the taps near you

    Crafty Fox and Karma frmo the Wily Fox Brewery in Wigan are tip top too

    Plus i see @DarloRich is a brown ale kind of man so he should check out what Bank Top brewery do too as ive had a couple fmor their but forget their names and they were ok but not hoppy enough for me

    I do like the selection spoons have on just about everywhere but how people can drink Ruddles is beyond me :D
     
  22. DerekC

    DerekC Member

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    Putting a word in for this part of the world in case Darlorich thinks beer stops at Milton Keynes. (Can't say I like brown ale, though, although I did work in Darlington for a few years)

    Our one and only local (i.e. within staggering distance) only sells Ringwood. I have got used to Razorback but Old Thumper is a bit heavy for me.
    Wallops Wood from Bowman Brewery in my local area is very tasty, but not many places keep it. Going a bit further afield
    Palmers of Bridport (a very old fashioned, independent, proper brewery) used to do a nice ordinary bitter - but they have stopped brewing it, to my dismay. Their Copper Ale isn't bad if well kept. Otherwise Otter. My local(ish) disappointment is Hall & Woodhouse of Blandford - I just don't like any of their offerings these days - they are all too sweet or flavoured with something no proper beer should taste of!
     
  23. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Member

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    I like Bishops Finger, tolerate abbot, detest Doooom Bar, like Otter, dislike Old Speckled Hen, dislike Hobgoblin. As for what I do like, how long have you got? :)
     
  24. PeterC

    PeterC Established Member

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    London Pride definitely doesn't travel. I have had some great pints in Fullers houses in London. In the Provinces I won't touch it.
     
  25. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Member

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    Pride isn't the beer it used to be. It's been dumbed down IMO.
    I like almost anything from Oakham Ales, Tring Brewery and Buntingford Brewery but ale drinking is an endless voyage of discovery. You get some pleasant and some nasty surprises but that's the thrill of the chase. Only the other day I tried a pint of Portobello Japanese Pale Ale and found it very odd indeed. Then I discovered they put Japanese green leaf tea into the mash. No thanks. Next pint up was Southwark LPA and the disappointment that was the JPA was soon forgotten. I'll always try something new if it's on.
     
  26. Bald Rick

    Bald Rick Established Member

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    Never seen Otter. I’d have Doom Bar if there was no other beer on; as for the rest if a pub was serving just them I’d walk out, never to return.

    Agreed, that is a good brew. First taste of that was in the Corrour station house, having spent the day doing the three Munros around Loch Ossian, in appalling conditions. To be fair anything would have tasted good, but this was like nectar. About 2 hours later, following a concerted effort by our 6 strong walking party, there was none left!

    My favourite beer is Bathams, however draught doesn’t make it anywhere outside a 10 mile radius of Cradeley Heath or east of the M5, so requires a special trip. Shropshire Lad is another favourite, but again doesn’t travel much.

    Generally, I have a rule that if I see Tribute or Landlord I’ll have that, and failing that Tring Side Pocket, Three Brewers Golden (only around St Albans), or Wainwright.
     
  27. Mag_seven

    Mag_seven Established Member

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    Whenever I enter a pub, the first thing I look for is a locally brewed pint. I always try to avoid a "beer on wheels" like those listed in the OP. As an aside this evening I am in Norway and have just downed a couple of delicious pints of local Norwegian brew. :)
     
  28. Cowley

    Cowley Established Member

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    Now that does sound nice.
    I bet they don’t sell Ruddles there...
     
  29. HLE

    HLE Established Member

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    All depends on how it's kept round these parts. There's one pub that only sells real ale, 9 hand pumps and you won't see anything mentioned in this thread on tap. It's all from local breweries in the region and sells out quick enough to guarantee a decent pint. That's a proper real ale pub to me.

    Other pubs that sell the doom bars, bass, and other commercial ale are hit and miss. Poured through the metal attachment to the bottom of the hand pump it'll pour like milk before settling slowly. Other pubs don't have said attachment and the beer is usually ****e as a result.

    Only one beer I won't go for - Carling.
     
  30. 61653 HTAFC

    61653 HTAFC Established Member

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    Cask Doom Bar isn't too bad, and at £1.49 a pint in my local 'Spoons it's pretty damn good! Otherwise it'll be something I've not tried before (particularly if I'm away from my home stomping ground) or one of the following:
    • Timothy Taylor's Landlord: This is my default choice if the pub I'm in has it and nothing else grabs me- such as if everything else is a ****ing IPA!
    • Timothy Taylor's Ram Tam: Nicer but rarer than Landlord, and far nicer than the overrated Boltmaker (also from TT)- which won the CAMRA gold medal last year despite being just as weirdly citrus-y as anything from Magic Rock!
    • Anything from the Rat Brewery, based at the Rat & Ratchet Brewpub on Chapel Hill in Huddersfield. For ale-trailers prepared to venture beyond St George's Square, this is just outside the ring-road at the west end of town. If you turn right at the bottom of the station square and walk right through the town centre in a straight line, it's on the right on the downhill after crossing the ring-road.
    Honourable mentions for Black Sheep Riggwelter, Everard's Tiger, and most of what Ossett Brewery offer.
     
  31. 45041

    45041 Member

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    I used to frequent a pub in Willenhall, close to Walsall, called The Brewers Droop. It specialised in real ale, with a chalk board up at the bar giving the name of the beer, vol and price. Once a beer had run out, the pipes were cleaned and a brand new guest beer appeared. Old Peculiar, Old Original, Bishops Finger, Old Hooky, Old Fart, Enville Ale were among the beers I remember there.

    Nowadays, Codsall Station is my local and Shifnal is my choice of drinking. Shropshire Gold is a very nice drink too.
     

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