Sunday, 18 October 2009

Lager Of the British Isles

Phew, here we go, another event from my trip away from Cumbria; Lager this time. I'm hoping to catch up before I go again on Tuesday. I never expected when I planned our nice little sojourn that I'd end up with such a busy schedule, but the diary dates just kept coming in. This time an event at The White Horse at Parsons Green about lager.

Most people who know me well enough realise I don't give much time to lager. My barman has even less time for it, when asked by customers what lager he would recommend he normally replies with "None, all lager is shit" or some other inappropriate sales patter. See what I have to deal with? The flack I got from him for RSVPing the invite can't be repeated here but lets just say he questioned my true gender.

But in the spirit of considering a true open mind I had to try. After all the group being represented is trying to establish a respectability for quality British made lager, that is worth supporting. But would I find something I like? Well actually I did. Seeing as Mark does a good job of summing up the proceedings there seems little point in me saying much more about the beers other than I pretty much agree completely with his findings.

I'd like to be a little more abstract with my thoughts about lager. I recently remember two beer people discussing which main steam fizzy yellow stuff they would prefer, should they have to suffer such a fate. I can't remember the brands under discussion but what struck me was the comments on their various flaws. To me lagers major flaw is that for most occasions it's too cold, too fizzy and too tasteless. Complaining about diacetyl1 or dimethylsulfide (DMS)2 creates a scientific surprise for me. I thought the main fault of such beers was the lack of any taste, it seems I'm wrong.

As an ale drinker who generally looks for plenty of flavour these sometimes subtle defects can pass me by. This fact seemed accentuated by one of the lagers being pulled from the tasting session. I found it to be fine and in fact quite tasty, but I was assured there was plenty wrong with it. So I'm seriously considering starting to drink these beers with known flaws, just so that I can understand the various complaints I hear about off flavours. It seems I'm underestimating the job of assessing lager.

A good do it was, I enjoyed it and wish every success to LOBI, despite my brain finding little jokes about lout drinking hooligans LOBbIng it out for the girls. Apparently the alternative acronyms are far more obvious, oh dear.

What was nice for me was I got a little chat with Oz Clarke. Of course I complimented him on the Oz and James drink to Britain series and suggested that more on the same lines would be lovely. I think he was a little defensive about the program's faults, like the issue over CAMRA being ignored and James being less than nice about Ratcliff Ale, clearly he's been badgered about these things before. I doubt any mainstream popular program would get things just right for the hardcore beer lover and overall I don't think the first series did any harm to beer and probably did some good.

Did you notice, "first series". Yup, my understanding is that there will be more programs. Oz seemed quite confident that the Beeb was right behind the idea of further programs. I hope so. I left Ann to work her feminine charm on him whilst I went to find more beer. Perhaps he'll convince the team to come out and film at my pub next, that would be fun.


1Diacetyl is a fault with beer that causes a buttery or butter scotch flavour, apparently. It's normally due to the beer being taken off the yeast too soon.

2Dimethylsulfide(DMS) can create cooked corn or vegetable flavour. It is normally caused by insufficient boiling of the wort during production.


Brewers Union Local 180 said...

Were any of the lagers technically considered to be "lout"?

Unknown said...

Ah, good point BUL180. Now you've just triggered a tirade on true lout...

To be lout it has to be made using highly quality assured production with the sole aim of producing a constantly low quality product in unimaginable stupid quantities on a miserly small budget thus allowing the large branding agencies to make lots of dosh out of brainwashing huge numbers of stupid people into thinking that if they drink it they will score with loose girls and so catch unmentionable infections.

Although I can't guarantee protection against infection, should you be unlucky enough to score with said type of floozy, in all other respects these lagers are very far away from lout.

Brewers Union Local 180 said...

Wow! That's even quotable. I would replace "stupid people" with "numpties". I found that my usage of the term has fallen off lately and am attempting to make better on that.

Rob Sterowski said...

"To me lagers major flaw is that for most occasions it's too cold, too fizzy and too tasteless."

You could say precisely the same thing about keg bitter.

Most lager is crap, including most of what is sold in this country as premium lager. Almost everything sold using the word "premium" is actually fourth-rate crap. Decent lager is rare. The greatest, life-changing lager still for the most part has to be sought out in its heartlands of Franconia and Bohemia. Send your barman to Bamberg for re-education.

Tandleman said...

Barm has the right of it. Even quality British lagers - and I've had a few of them" - concentrate on miserable pilsner take offs, without ever quite making it as well as they might.

No real imagination in LOBI I'd say and I say this as a lager lover - when I can get truly inspiring lager and in my experience, with a few honourable exceptions, Franconia and possibly the Czech Republic are the places to experience it - it is truly a joy. Mmm, Kellarbier,

Velky Al said...

May I suggest, as I often do, when you are closed in the winter - go to Plzen and discover the delights of a true Pilsner. Stay in the Purkmistr hotel and brewery, sample their excellent range, hang out with the brewers, see it done and if after you have seen and tasted it done proper and still don't like lager, then I promise I will never bother you with recommending getting to the Czech Republic to discover what you are missing by drinking British lager.

Purkmistr's website is


Unknown said...

Al, I'd love to have a trip to real lager country, it seems that everybody that knows anything about true European pilsner says the same, but unfortunately this winter it's a serious tighten of my belt. Unless of course the Beer Writer award me a travel bursary, but I rather fancy there are a few others in front of me in that queue.