Real Ales (including mass produced ones)

Puffing Devil

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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.
Oakham Citra in bottle is great. They also make a couple of canned beers for M&S which are worth picking up at the Station for a trip.
 
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IanD

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I'm not a big fan of those listed by the OP but will drink them occasionally. I see the Bar of Doom as an entry level real ale, hopefully as it seems to be everywhere people will try and and then get a taste for something other than fizzy keg lager and perhaps branch out and try some of the far better real ales on offer.

Like DarloRich, I always look out for a local beer to try if possible. Round here, we have 2 excellent breweries in Hornes (Bow Brickhill) and Blackened Sun (Stacey Bushes, MK). I'm always on the lookout for something new, of the beers I've had in the last 3 years, I'd say that about 5 out of 6 have been beers I've not tried before.

Landlord used to be my beer of choice back in the day but these days I find it disappointing. I guess it's the way they serve it down south. I think generally Southern brewed beers should be served flat, northern beers through a sparkler - that bit on the end of the pump that causes more air to be added to the beer. Where that n/s line is drawn, I'm not sure. I have a friend from Scunthorpe who carries a sparkler with him and has some success in getting bar staff to use it.
 
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IanD

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And I don't have a spreadsheet but I do use the untappd app to record beers I've had so I can easily avoid those I've not been impressed by.

Particularly bad beers I've had and would avoid in future are Tequilla Mockingbird by Greene King (only thing going for it was its name, thankfully no longer in production); T Drop by Adnams (Earl gray, jasmine and hibiscus - absolutely vile); Shoemaker by Frog Island (tasted like embrocation) and Wye by Thornbridge (cucumber pale ale, appropriately named if spelt Why?). Others have been bad but probably as a result of poor cellarmanship or I just got unlucky and got an off pint so would give them another try if I saw them.

My biggest bug-bear with real ale sellers is when you tell someone behind the bar the beer is off (and with my years of experience, I know when a beer is off!), some keep on selling it without even checking it. Profit first I guess.
 

GusB

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My biggest bug-bear with real ale sellers is when you tell someone behind the bar the beer is off (and with my years of experience, I know when a beer is off!), some keep on selling it without even checking it. Profit first I guess.
There's nothing worse than when they don't care. One local pub only ever kept two ales (Caley IPA and Director's), but the landlady knew how to keep the beer properly and I could be assured of a consistent experience. On the rare occasion (perhaps early on in the day) if a pint wasn't quite up to standard, an apology was given, and another pint was pulled without question. If the beer had gone off completely, it was immediately taken off sale. When the pub changed hands, quality went down the pan and on one occasion when I had a really vinegary pint, I brought this to their attention and was more or less treated as being a troublemaker. I didn't go back and it would seem that others made the same decision, for the pub closed shortly afterwards.

Conversely, there's a place in nearby town where the landlord is enthusiastic about the beer, hosts the annual beer festival and ensures that his staff are knowledgeable. If I see an ale I haven't tried I can confidently ask what it's like, how it compares to the ales that I do know and, of course they always offer the opportunity to try a small amount before committing to the full pint. Prices are higher compared to the usual keg-pubs, but I appreciate that I'm paying a premium for a) decent beer and b) the extra care and attention that goes into serving it.
 

DarloRich

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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.
Wont touch Everards. Good call on Ram Tam. I have never had a bad pint from Ossett. Riggwelter can be like rocket fuel. Wonderful.

we have 2 excellent breweries in Hornes (Bow Brickhill) and Blackened Sun (Stacey Bushes, MK)
Both superb. Much better than Concrete Cow

Landlord used to be my beer of choice back in the day but these days I find it disappointing. I guess it's the way they serve it down south. I think generally Southern brewed beers should be served flat, northern beers through a sparkler - that bit on the end of the pump that causes more air to be added to the beer. Where that n/s line is drawn, I'm not sure. I have a friend from Scunthorpe who carries a sparkler with him and has some success in getting bar staff to use it.
The line is where ever I am ;) Cant stand them selling Landlord southern style. I do wonder what muck like London Pride would be like if served in the correct manner

I don't have a spreadsheet but I do use the untappd app to record beers I've had so I can easily avoid those I've not been impressed by.
I use untappd. The problem is people think i drink a lot because i rate every beer i have. I might only have 2 a week but it looks like i am always on the pop!

Particularly bad beers I've had and would avoid in future are Tequilla Mockingbird by Greene King (only thing going for it was its name, thankfully no longer in production); T Drop by Adnams (Earl gray, jasmine and hibiscus - absolutely vile);
I wont drink anything from Greene King. Awful. I don't like Adnams (except some of the strong brews) and used to hate Woodfordes but they seem to have really improved

My favourite beer is Bathams, however draught doesn’t make it anywhere outside a 10 mile radius of Cradeley Heath
Bathams is proper old school bitter. Very good.

Tring Side Pocket
Tring is oftne a good drop but i have had some really rank examples

and you won't see anything mentioned in this thread on tap
Shame. You are missing out on top quality ale. I dont drink rubbish,

and far nicer than the overrated Boltmaker
WOAH. Lets get a grip here. Boltmaker is a nice drop. A decent Yorkshire ale.

but I appreciate that I'm paying a premium for a) decent beer and b) the extra care and attention that goes into serving it.
indeed. One pays for quality!
 

Techniquest

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I've not read all of this thread, but it does appeal as a connisuer (no idea how to spell that properly sorry!) of beer!

Several mentions of Timothy Taylor's Landlord I see which gets a big thumbs up from me. One of my most favourite beers, although I'd like to try their dark mild again. Had it years ago when I met up with the late 4SRKT, absolutely awesome beer and I have never found it this far south. One day I will return to Yorkshire and enjoy some again!

As for Cowley's list of beers, I'd avoid most of them. More into craft these days, and I've got well into my IPAs these days. Depends on the mood as to what I fancy, sometimes I'll go for a pale or a porter, or whatever. The only sort of beer I tend to avoid is sour/gose/lambic. Not my cup of tea!

I do like trying all sorts of beer and it's unusual for me to stick to just one sort. I'm well into my Euro brews, Tyskie being a firm favourite there. Last night I had a new type for me, imperial black IPA. 10%er from Brecon Brewing, I did expect better for such a beer but it was still good stuff.
 

johntea

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I miss working in Saltaire as the end of week treat was always a trip to Fanny's Ale House!

For a relaxed evening it was a few pints of Landlord, for a 'argh most stressful week at work ever' evening I must admit being a bit of a lager lout and heavily drinking Warsteiner which was always a bit of silent killer!
 

306024

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Good to see Colchester Brewery (near Chappel and Wakes Colne) getting an award at the GBBF this week for its Brazilian, a coffee vanilla porter which is excellent.

Meanwhile Wibblers Brewery at Southminster brews some excellent ales. Take the Crouch Valley Ale Trail to the back of beyond, you won’t be disappointed.

Green Jack beers from Lowestoft are all worth a try.

With so much choice now there is little need to drink the larger volume produced beers, unless you happen to like them of course. No accounting for taste, I don’t like Landlord, which many rave about.
 

JB_B

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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? :)
I'd pretty much agree with this assessment - given the OP's not very inspiring selection.

There's nothing particularly wrong with Bishop's Finger ( in a Shepherd Neame pub I'll normally check if they have bottles of their excellent, biscuity take on IPA but sadly many of their pubs don't carry it. )

Abbot is the least bad of GK's truly dismal standard offerings. (But of course no-one would be going to GK for the beer, would they? That's apart from a tiny number of honourable exceptions which source locally; I've always assumed these might be GK franchised rather than tenanted/managed - does anyone know?)

Doom is a great name for marketing but the version available these days seems very sweet and bland to me.

For more positive ideas: there are innumerable excellent SIBA members doing good work locally. For slightly more mainstream alternatives to the OP's list, many older regional brewers are still making excellent beers.

For example, Harveys do some great bottles and seasonal cask (I'm looking forward to Southdown Harvest and Bonfire Boy on draft.)

Even, Fullers - now Asahi - is still OK despite the takeover. I've been offered some poor London Pride at London Terminal 'pubs' over the decades but it's really not bad when properly kept. I would usually go for the ESB. Since the Dark Star takeover you can now find their stuff (APA and Rev are good) in some Fullers pubs.
 

Cowley

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This has been great.
I mean who’d have thought that a thread like this would’ve caused so many people to have strong opinions..?
Thanks all. ;)
 

IanD

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Abbot is the least bad of GK's truly dismal standard offerings. (But of course no-one would be going to GK for the beer, would they? That's apart from a tiny number of honourable exceptions which source locally; I've always assumed these might be GK franchised rather than tenanted/managed - does anyone know?)
I don't think there's a hard and fast rule with Greene King. I was chatting with the manager of one close to me that only offers GK beers. He said that you can generally tell which are franchised and which are managed by which offer a CAMRA discount. All managed pubs should do this. I've been in a fair few offering the discount which have a large range of beers eg The Frog and Parrot in Sheffield which had the usual GK offerings plus 3 beers from other breweries. If I see a GK pub I'll usually have a look on CAMRA's WhatPub website to find out what they offer or just do a swift 180 if all I see is Abbot and IPA.

GK do some half decent beers but they don't seem to supply them outside Suffolk so most people's impressions of their beer are derived from Abbot and (misnamed) IPA.

As someone else mentioned, Sharps also do some far better beers than Doom Bar (Atlantic, Cornish Coaster) so it's difficult to understand why they don't push them more on the back of DB's popularity.
 

IanD

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Seriously, I'm in 2 minds about Wetherspoons.

I like them because they offer decent quality real ale at affordable prices, they often support local breweries and certainly promote the drinking of real ale. The food whilst not gourmet is at least consistent but that's for another thread.

On the other hand, some people claim they kill off other pubs in the area thus actually reducing real ale choice and availability over all and they attract an unsavoury element. There may be some merit in the first claim but the second is surely true of all pubs which sell beer at prices people will tolerate and not just restricted to real ale establishments.

Recently, I have found some 'Spoons beer selection to be limited. Whereas before they would have had Abbot, Ruddles and Doom Bar on three pumps with the remaining pumps given over to the proper real ale, lately I've found that at least one of the 3 bland beers is also appearing on another pump. Last week in The Full House in Hemel Hempstead, there were only two other beers available on the 10 hand pulls, plus a real cider. Fortunately, one was the excellent St Peter's Plum Porter.

A similar experience was had in The Crown in Berkhamsted.

My preference these days is for micropubs and brewery tap bars. Fortunately, Hemel has the excellent Monk's Inn with 10 real ales (5 on cask, 5 on gravity) and 6 real ciders. Berkhamsted has the Mad Squirrel Tap and also some good traditional pubs like The Rising Sun.
 
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Kingspanner

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My wife has just returned from a tour of stately homes of Northumberland undertaken with her mother. Happily she brought back a couple of bottles of Alnwick Gold which I can confirm were very drinkable indeed.
 

Bald Rick

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That's a good one.

I seem to have developed a taste for the Citra ales over the last few years.
I’m not a big fan of Citra, although would drink it in preference to any of the suggestions in the OP.

I noticed that M&S sell Oakham’s Citra, but also their own version of Citra too. If you look carefully on the label, you’ll see that their own versio is brewed by... Oakham Ales. Guess which one was more expensive!
 

Puffing Devil

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I’m not a big fan of Citra, although would drink it in preference to any of the suggestions in the OP.

I noticed that M&S sell Oakham’s Citra, but also their own version of Citra too. If you look carefully on the label, you’ll see that their own versio is brewed by... Oakham Ales. Guess which one was more expensive!
Errr....

Oakham Citra in bottle is great. They also make a couple of canned beers for M&S which are worth picking up at the Station for a trip.
My favourite is the Double Hopped Citra IPA with a healthy 5.9%ABV.
 

yorksrob

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I’m not a big fan of Citra, although would drink it in preference to any of the suggestions in the OP.

I noticed that M&S sell Oakham’s Citra, but also their own version of Citra too. If you look carefully on the label, you’ll see that their own versio is brewed by... Oakham Ales. Guess which one was more expensive!
This is not just any Citra - It's M&S Citra !

Seriously though - I'm not going to decry M&S, as they actually have a decent little range of beers if you're in a hurry and need some at short notice.
 

Bald Rick

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This is not just any Citra - It's M&S Citra !

Seriously though - I'm not going to decry M&S, as they actually have a decent little range of beers if you're in a hurry and need some at short notice.
Oh definitely. Even their bog standard lager is quite acceptable. Any port on a storm.
 

PeterC

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Northern pubs using sparklers - a great way to liven up stale beer and, of course, to give short measure. Once upon a time you did at least get the beer in pint to line glasses. In my last few visits to Yorkshire the beer has been served "pint to brim".

I have never found anything wrong with properly kept beer served straight from the barrel.
 

Puffing Devil

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Northern pubs using sparklers - a great way to liven up stale beer and, of course, to give short measure. Once upon a time you did at least get the beer in pint to line glasses. In my last few visits to Yorkshire the beer has been served "pint to brim".

I have never found anything wrong with properly kept beer served straight from the barrel.
Taste, tradition and myth.

I don't like flat, southern beer and much prefer mine pulled through a sparkler. Northern breweries will say that they brew to be served this way, while Southern brewers are entering the realm of the flat pint.

There was a campaign for lined glasses that I support - defeated by lobbying from the pubs industry as they would "lose money"; a clear admission that they were under serving and relying on that to boost profits!
 
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Marton

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Reading this reminds me of the best beer I ever remember which was Wards Bitte in Sheffield.

Sadly Wards disappeared when Vaux, which had bought it, collapsed.
 

AM9

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I don't tend to drink bitter much now but a favourite in the beer festivals was Hopback Summer Lightning. As far as beer in pubs goes (mainly Hampshire), Eldridge Pope's Royal Oak was fairly consistent and an easy drink. Never got on with the local favourite Gale's HSB though, too strong a flavour. Don't like bitter in bottles much, - always go for draught.
 

DarloRich

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Reading this reminds me of the best beer I ever remember which was Wards Bitte in Sheffield.

Sadly Wards disappeared when Vaux, which had bought it, collapsed.
Vaux bought Wards in the 1970's and Wards was produced much longer than that. It has also been resurrected by Maxim

Also Vaux did not "collapse". The board, against the wishes of the chairman ( of the founding family who felt the brewery would always make money), decided to close the breweries ( Vaux and Wards) and concentrate on hotels despite the fact Vaux breweries was a profitable business, had proper community values, made bloody good beer, had a massive pub network in the north east and was the subject of a management buyout attempt. It was absolutely disgraceful and led to 500-600 jobs being lost. There are some details here:

https://www.scotsman.com/business/c...ise-a-morality-tale-for-modern-times-1-652225
 

Techniquest

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Well I'm reading this at Malvern Link while waiting for what is meant to be a winning 800/3, drinking what has turned out to be a slightly disappointing Belgian.

Regarding Spoons, sometimes my local in Hereford is excellent at real ale but, like others have noted, the more 'commercial' stuff has started infiltrating those pumps too. I was also disappointed when I visited on Saturday just gone. Titanic's Captain Smith was on, so I paid £1.99 for a pint of that. One of the spaces was allocated to a cider and another to Doom Bar, with the third of 4 for real ale run out. Sadly my choice had gone, with alternatives being Trooper or Abbot. I'm not a fan of Trooper, but it had to do. No way was I accepting Abbot, thinking about it the 4th pump for real ale must have been dud or run out.

The point here being my local Spoons is often good for easy-drinking ales which rotate regularly, but in recent months it's gone awful.

By the way, I do recommend Link Wines in Malvern Link for their excellent variety of beers, only a 5 minute walk from the station.

For those of you on Untapped, I'm (shockingly) on there as Techniquest. I'm now on 2,391 different beers/ciders!
 

Techniquest

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I will have to see if I'm already following you then! I never used to check in duplicates but I did eventually. Currently sat at Shrub Hill with a different Belgian waiting for a potential red pen move.

I think the manager in my local Spoons who used to be proud of his real ales might have moved on. The staff turnover in there is significant! If he has moved on, he lasted a long time to be fair. At least my local Spoons is better than the one in Kidderminster...
 

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