Beer is a drink going through a bit of a renaissance. All around us craft breweries are springing up and there are lots of pubs out there who boast about their extensive beer selections, some even provide beer menus. You’d think as a long-term beer drinker that I’d be pleased about this and I’d love to be, if only it wasn’t so difficult these days to find the sort of beer I like to drink. In fact if anything I’d say it’s got harder since the craft beer revolution. Now all the hand pulls are taken up with seasonal beers or IPAs and there isn’t any room seemingly for what I would call a proper pint of bitter.
I cut my beer drinking teeth on pints of mild in the days when it was the only pint left that still cost under a pound. As my taste matured and my pocket expanded a little, I moved onto drinking bitter and I’ve been there ever since. Over the years I’ve tried lots of different beers and I know that I like a full-bodied, well-rounded bitter with a lovely coppery tone to it. My absolute favourite all time pint is Wadsworth 6X which is pure nectar and the smoothest pint I’ve ever drunk. Sadly as the brewery is based in Devizes and most of the pubs that stock the beer are south of here, I rarely get to drink it. Now and again though some landlord who knows their bitter stocks it as a guest beer and I’m in heaven. I think my second favourite beer is probably Timothy Taylor’s Landlord, but Everards’ Tiger and Adnams’ Broadside come close.
I really think that if a pub is setting its stall out as a beer specialist it should be offering a range of bitters on hand pull naturally, rather than on the tap. Offering IPAs (Imperial Pale Ales) doesn’t really count in my eyes as I think IPAs are a lot closer to lager than to a traditional bitter. I find them a bit fizzy and too light in colour and flavour to really make them a satisfying pint to drink. So often I walk into a pub with lots of hand pulls and my expectations rise and then are dashed because there isn’t a pint amongst them that I really want to drink. Sadly my closest pubs don’t really offer a decent bitter on hand pull. One offers John Smiths on tap or worse still in another Worthingtons. I often end up drinking these because it’s still better than drinking a IPA, but I do find that I have to travel further afield to get a decent pint these days.
So pub landlords please start offering more bitters. Bitter is a lovely full-flavoured drink and it’s a shame to see it dying out a bit because pubs seem obsessed with fashionable IPAs.