The Beer Snob - Beer & Pubs etc

Abbot ale Paul Smith's favourite

I first discovered beer in around about 1975, with cans of Tartan at home and Double Diamond in local pubs in Great Baddow. It was later in '75 that I discovered Greene King Abbot ale, which remains my favourite beer. This should be served in the Southern fashion - hand pumped (unless anyone still serves by gravity from barrels on the bar--?) with only a light loosely formed head. In a letter to the "The Times" Newspaper, a retired publican mentions " -----the superb pubs that serve beer the way brewers intended -- solely by gravity direct from the barrel to the glass. Pumps of all kind mar the flavour" (Alan Kahn)

Update December 2011
Some good news on the beer front. Looks like better deals creeping into the Supermarkets. Morrison's have for some while had a really good range of decent bottled beers, usually with one or two of them for about £1.50 a bottle. This Christmas Sainsbury's have had good reductions on multipacks of Bottled Abbot and canned Speckled Hen. Most other Supermarkets don't seem able to offer decent discounts on anything except fizzy nonsense, (Carling/Boddington's/JSES etc)
. An interesting article in "The Times" recently does point to an increased interest in real beer. In this article, Roger Protz, the editor of Camra’s Good Beer Guide, notes “I think people have got bored with drinking the advertising, as the marketing men put it. They get bored with the big mass brands and think why can they have six pints of fizzy lager when they can have three bottles of beer with real flavour.”


This is where my snobbery comes in. Under no circumstances should any real beer be served with inches of soapy foam on top. It should not be served with the sparkler tightened. It should not be cold. It's unfortunate that advertising and marketing of many beers has convinced the undiscernng that beers should have this unnatural foam. So, any adjectives like smoothflow, creamy, extra smooth, cold, extra cold, and so on, when applied to beer mean that you are drinking an advertising campaign. And what does a widget have to do with beer?

There is a view that if a beer does not have a tight creamy head then it is flat. This is not true. Read what the experts think on CAMRA website and note this extract

"There is one final point about the beer's journey to the glass. Serving beer through any handpump agitates the beer to some extent and aerates it. Some dispense systems deliberately maximise this agitation. A sparkler is a tight nozzle, normally at the end of a long 'swan-neck' tube. Beer must be forced through the tight holes, often requiring several strokes of the handpump. This agitation produces a thick creamy head; it also removes much of the natural carbonation from the body of the beer, and drives much of the hop bitterness into the head of the pint. Such dispense is traditional in some parts of the North, and beers are brewed there with this in mind. Used on other beers it leads to a different flavour balance to that intended by the brewer - the beer may become blander than the brewer wanted."

I live in Leicester and while there is no doubt there are fine beers to be had, these are ruined by this fizz misconception. In one local pub,the sparkler is permanently tightened, resulting in dreadful, foamy nonsense - and sometimes takening two or three minutes to pour while it settles. The staff are banned from loosening the sparkler, even if the customer asks. Even managers and tenants suffer this ignorance.

I won't openly condemn indivudual products (John Smith's Extra Smooth for example) I'll let others do it for me. See this Review in its original context and believe the marketing. The views expressed below are the very opposite of mine!

"Every time i go down to my local i don't think of ordering anything but a nice cool pint of John Smith's Extra Smooth.
----- For people who are really fussy about their beer, this one doesn't really have a strong distinctive flavour or aroma. If you were expecting a full bodied beer you would certainly be dissapointed, however the fact that it has a smooth texture and doesn't have any nasty lingering after-tastes makes up for this. This bitter is quite similar to Tetelys smoothflow so if you have had the chance to sample this and have enjoyed it, you should enjoy John Smith's.
The beer is Golden slightly amber color. Thick rich one inch beige head. Smooth rich malty taste with a slight dry hoppy finish. Not a huge nose but there is some malt sweetness. It is not gassey so dousn't cause bloating and flatulence like lagers.

The beer is available on tap from a pub, or in cans, both pour quite nicely giving a nice creamy head thanks to the ingenius widget in the cans.
There is not a great dea of difference between the two, but i prefer drinking it straight from the tap as it is slightly smoother despite being slightly more expensive. Prices of this product can vary depending on where you buy it. The most obvious place to buy beer would be a pub. (surely some mistake)

The thing i like most about John Smith's extra smooth is their advertisng campaign. If you have seen the adverts you will know exactly what im talking about. The John Smith's adverts are so funny it would not do them any justice if i try to explain them. I hope you find this opinion useful when considering what to order next time you are down the pub, or if you just fancy a change from lager" Thanks Dan.

Bottled Abbot
Real Cellar
Top Qualty Harvey's in the Hope, Newhaven
Best Harvey's
The Tulip, Schelmsfor 1980. Great Abbot
The Tulip