The Beer Snob - Beer & Pubs etc
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)
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!
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.
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.