Wot's Happened to Real Ales?

For many years now, we have flown into Gatwick, driven North quickly, and started quaffing real ales in Haworth, then worked our way up thru the Dales and then back down into York, before dashing back to Gatwick for the ride out. And all that time we enjoyed the dark, nutty, malty, hoppy tastes of real Yorkshire ales ... until this year.
Wot's happened?
First, the Landlord had virtually no hop to it. It used to be almost green. Now it's just sorta bland.
Then the Old Peculier was more spiritous that malty. Again, kinda muddy and bland. RamTam wasn't much better.
The Old Tosser in Oxenhope and the T'owd Tup in Dent were, thank gawd, really very nice pints. Can't complain about these. They were great! We'll come back just for these!
But for most of the trip, the Theakston's, the Black Sheep, the Tim Taylors, and many many others were rather light, bland, and ho-hum. In fact it seems like across the UK ales have becme lighter and less tasty.
Is this because in order to win the Camra prizes, you gotta be a Light Beer??
chuck
Wot Gives???
Reply to
chuck
I have a brewer friend who classes prizewinning ales as "show ponies" Judges only taste a small sample of each beer.Those with initial impact and bite score highly. Other , better beers get better as the glass goes down.They do not get a chance. Personally , however much I enjoy a pint of say JHB , I never ask for a second. Other beers just seem to get better and better.
Reply to
vob
In message , vob writes >I have a brewer friend who classes prizewinning ales as "show ponies" >Judges only taste a small sample of each beer.Those with initial >impact and bite score highly. >Other , better beers get better as the glass goes down.They do not get >a chance. Having seen the aftermath of judging at SIBA SW the judges very obviously weren't tasting 'a small sample'. Given the relatively small number of beers each table judges they must have been drinking 'a substantial sample'. While its true some pretty weird and wonderful beers regularly become 'beer of the festival' try to remember *the public* votes for them, everywhere there's an organised sampling for judges trick beers fail to impress. Some brewers do try to cheat by sending specially cared for barrels which could count as 'show ponies' of course. I can well believe some of the industries own contests are flawed like you suggest but who cares about them. >Personally , however much I enjoy a pint of say JHB , I never ask for >a second. Other beers just seem to get better and better.
Personally when I've run out of guest beers to try the JHB is always waiting to save me. Its interesting enough for several pints and my friends seem to agree. -- Paul Shirley: email unwelcome, reply by news
--
Paul Shirley: email unwelcome, reply by news
Reply to
Paul Shirley
>But for most of the trip, the Theakston's, the Black Sheep, >the Tim Taylors, and many many others were rather light, bland, >and ho-hum. In fact it seems like across the UK ales have >becme lighter and less tasty. > >Is this because in order to win the Camra prizes, you gotta be a Light >Beer??
I think there are three factors at work.
1. In the mass market sector such as Theakston's (= Scottish Courage), there has been a trend for beers to become blander and 'smoother' because the breweries keep trying to recover market share from the nitro sector. This generally doesn't work, the nitro drinkers stick with nitro and the cask beer drinkers get pissed off.
2. Taylors and Black Sheep now sell a lot more beer than they used to, and the quality has become more variable. You can still get a cracking pint of Landlord or Ram Tam, but you can't rely on it.
3. There's been a fashion in the specialist cask beer sector for pale beers using American hops (what I call 'RCH Pitchfork clones'). Some of these beers are very good, but some have a rather gimmicky taste which doesn't last through the glass, and even the good ones won't appeal if you just don't like that beer style.
Hope you enjoyed the trip anyway :-)
Best regards, Paul -- Paul Sherwin Consulting
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Reply to
Paul Sherwin
I have myself been a judge at a SIBA competition.There were 20 entries in the premium bitters class , my group did 10 and we then swapped our top 3 with the other group.I doubt whether anyone swallowed as much as a pint during the tasting. But after the tasting............well , it was all free , wasn't it !
Reply to
vob
> I have myself been a judge at a SIBA competition.There were 20 entries > in the premium bitters class , my group did 10 and we then swapped our > top 3 with the other group.I doubt whether anyone swallowed as much as > a pint during the tasting. > But after the tasting............well , it was all free , wasn't it !
Yes but ... I was more curious about the bitters we had in pubs, not all gussied up for judges. They seemed kinda dumbed down (the beers, not the judges).
(We had not been to Yorkshire in several years for various reasons, and so are comparing to ales of the late 1990's.)
In any case the Theakston's (bought back by the family, no?), the Black Sheep, the Taylor's, etc, seemed like they have been "Bud-Lighted" in comparison to those earlier brews. Insane as it seems, I found the Cameron's (which I used to think was insipid) had more shmoltz than the "premium" bitters. Are the British ale-drinkers going for lighter brews these days? Or are the brewers brewing lighter ales to impress the judges? (By lighter, I mean less hoppy and less malty, which leaves what??)
chuck
Reply to
chuck
> > >But for most of the trip, the Theakston's, the Black Sheep, > >the Tim Taylors, and many many others were rather light, bland, > >and ho-hum. In fact it seems like across the UK ales have > >becme lighter and less tasty. > > > >Is this because in order to win the Camra prizes, you gotta be a Light > >Beer?? > > I think there are three factors at work. > > 1. In the mass market sector such as Theakston's (= Scottish Courage), > there has been a trend for beers to become blander and 'smoother' > because the breweries keep trying to recover market share from the > nitro sector. This generally doesn't work, the nitro drinkers stick > with nitro and the cask beer drinkers get pissed off. Since ScotCo sold Theakston's back, has there been any difference (i.e improvement) in the beers? Used to be brewed in "Masham and Tyne". Well I guess they can't be brewed in "Tyne" any more! > 2. Taylors and Black Sheep now sell a lot more beer than they used to, > and the quality has become more variable. You can still get a cracking > pint of Landlord or Ram Tam, but you can't rely on it. > > 3. There's been a fashion in the specialist cask beer sector for pale > beers using American hops (what I call 'RCH Pitchfork clones'). Some > of these beers are very good, but some have a rather gimmicky taste > which doesn't last through the glass, and even the good ones won't > appeal if you just don't like that beer style. > > Hope you enjoyed the trip anyway :-) > > Best regards, Paul > -- > Paul Sherwin Consulting
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Reply to
BrianW
In message , chuck wrote >In any case the Theakston's (bought back by the family, no?), >the Black Sheep, the Taylor's, etc, seemed like they have been >"Bud-Lighted" in comparison to those earlier brews. Insane >as it seems, I found the Cameron's (which I used to think was >insipid) had more shmoltz than the "premium" bitters. Are >the British ale-drinkers going for lighter brews these days? As beers go national they all get dumbed down so as to offend no-one. Small brewers also seem to miss the point that the beers that have no distinctive taste, malty or hoppy, are doing their business no favours. I know of people who are now reluctant to buy Real Ale unless they recognise the brew having been caught out too often with a 'name of the month' bland offering. >Or are the brewers brewing lighter ales to impress the judges? >(By lighter, I mean less hoppy and less malty, which leaves >what??)
In my opinion, brewers are finding that lighter 'golden ' beers are more popular but only the ones with less of a malt taste and are distinctively more hoppy. In my local, which does around 200 different beers a year, a golden hoppy beer will often depart the casks in hours whereas a bland or malty beer can take days to shift.
-- Alan mailto:news2me_a_2003@amacleod.clara.co.uk
--
Alan
mailto:news2me_a_2003@amacleod.clara.co.uk
Reply to
Alan
Funny thing is - despite the vogue for the "american pale ale " style , one of our (tiny) local pubs put on a mild for our Mild in May campaign......with some trepidation as he had to go from 2 pumps to 3 in order to accommodate it.By Saturday he was well down the third cask!
Reply to
vob
> >"Paul Sherwin" wrote in message >news:409f5869.174165930@news.individual.net... >> >> 1. In the mass market sector such as Theakston's (= Scottish Courage), >> there has been a trend for beers to become blander and 'smoother' >> because the breweries keep trying to recover market share from the >> nitro sector. This generally doesn't work, the nitro drinkers stick >> with nitro and the cask beer drinkers get pissed off. > >Since ScotCo sold Theakston's back, has there been any difference (i.e >improvement) in the beers? Used to be brewed in "Masham and Tyne". Well I >guess they can't be brewed in "Tyne" any more!
I haven't drunk any in the last few months. I think lots of the Theakston's stuff is still brewed by SC in Newcastle under some bizarre contract, because they don't have the capacity in Masham. IIRC cask Old Peculier has always all been brewed in Masham though.
Best regards, Paul -- Paul Sherwin Consulting
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Reply to
Paul Sherwin
> In message , vob writes > >I have a brewer friend who classes prizewinning ales as "show ponies" > >Judges only taste a small sample of each beer.Those with initial > >impact and bite score highly. > >Other , better beers get better as the glass goes down.They do not get > >a chance. > > Having seen the aftermath of judging at SIBA SW the judges very > obviously weren't tasting 'a small sample'. Given the relatively small > number of beers each table judges they must have been drinking 'a > substantial sample'. > > While its true some pretty weird and wonderful beers regularly become > 'beer of the festival' try to remember *the public* votes for them, > everywhere there's an organised sampling for judges trick beers fail to > impress. if we're talking about Beers of the Festival, is it my imagination, or does there seem to be a disproportionate occurrence of breweries winning the prizes in their local festivals - e.g. I can't remember a year when Cain's didn't win in Liverpool & as good as they are, that strikes me as odd at a festival which IMO always has a stunning beerlist (& I don't know whether the 'Ales From The Crypt' fest has a judging panel or is by public vote) > Some brewers do try to cheat by sending specially cared for > barrels which could count as 'show ponies' of course. > > I can well believe some of the industries own contests are flawed like > you suggest but who cares about them. (OK, I'm an ex-brewer, & I object to the 'commerciability' focus of some industry competitions, but . . . ) I like the idea of being judged by one's colleagues, experienced peers and other judges that your beers are amongst the best out there. Also the BIIA is international & only every 2 years; & SIBA's national & yearly - so (IMO) they feel somehow more worthwhile than the myriad of pub, camra & other fests that might have a beer of the fest. see also - www.brewingawards.org This is the website for the Brewing Industry International Awards - every year they throw out some of the weirdest results; e.g. - this year all 3 of the 5.6%-6.9%abv packaged lagers are Polish!; Coniston Old Man from Horsham is up for something; 2 Oregon beers & CharleWells are in another winning group; Schneider competes with 2 Russian/CIS beers in the wheat class; Tennents Super is on for a medal!; Liefmans will have something else to print on their crepe paper fruitbeer-wrappers soon (in addition to a Peterborough CAMRA prize); Manchester & Reading S&N breweries are competing one another to brew perfect Kronenbourg & also against Coor's Alton-brewed Grolsch!; & Everards Tigersmooth goes up against keg C.W.Bombardier & Sierra Nevada PaleAle! > >Personally , however much I enjoy a pint of say JHB , I never ask for > >a second. Other beers just seem to get better and better. > > Personally when I've run out of guest beers to try the JHB is always > waiting to save me. Its interesting enough for several pints and my > friends seem to agree.
I'm not your friend (nothing personal :~) but I do agree - it's certainly interesting enough for me - lovely stuff.
Re the OP, Chuck - I would simply guess maybe you got a few tired pints (poorly-kept, end of barrel or summat?) as I've had both TimTaylors & BlackSheep fairly regularly & recently & both have been good, distinctive & hoppy (plus - & I'm no big fan of ScotCo & the reborn Theakston's have yet to prove themselves, but I quite enjoyed a night-cap of OldPec fairly recently - not wonderful, but good).
It's hard to say what the trends are in brewing & drinking ales - pale/golden bitters are still 'in', hoppiness is cropping up more & more in my experience (& welcome it is too IMO). But lots of the bigger brands, last I tried them, seemed quite similar - crystal-malt tinged, medium bitterness, low in yeasty fruitiness, low in hop aroma/taste (e.g. national/regional brewery beers such as Tiger, Bombardier, GK Abbot IPA, & OldSpec, Theakston's, Courage, Bass, etc) cheers MikeMcG
Reply to
MikeMcG
> In message , vob writes > >I have a brewer friend who classes prizewinning ales as "show ponies" > >Judges only taste a small sample of each beer.Those with initial > >impact and bite score highly. > >Other , better beers get better as the glass goes down.They do not get > >a chance. > > Having seen the aftermath of judging at SIBA SW the judges very > obviously weren't tasting 'a small sample'. Given the relatively small > number of beers each table judges they must have been drinking 'a > substantial sample'. > > While its true some pretty weird and wonderful beers regularly become > 'beer of the festival' try to remember *the public* votes for them, > everywhere there's an organised sampling for judges trick beers fail to > impress. if we're talking about Beers of the Festival, is it my imagination, or does there seem to be a disproportionate occurrence of breweries winning the prizes in their local festivals - e.g. I can't remember a year when Cain's didn't win in Liverpool & as good as they are, that strikes me as odd at a festival which IMO always has a stunning beerlist (& I don't know whether the 'Ales From The Crypt' fest has a judging panel or is by public vote) > Some brewers do try to cheat by sending specially cared for > barrels which could count as 'show ponies' of course. > > I can well believe some of the industries own contests are flawed like > you suggest but who cares about them. (OK, I'm an ex-brewer, & I object to the 'commerciability' focus of some industry competitions, but . . . ) I like the idea of being judged by one's colleagues, experienced peers and other judges that your beers are amongst the best out there. Also the BIIA is international & only every 2 years; & SIBA's national & yearly - so (IMO) they feel somehow more worthwhile than the myriad of pub, camra & other fests that might have a beer of the fest. see also - www.brewingawards.org This is the website for the Brewing Industry International Awards - every year they throw out some of the weirdest results; e.g. - this year all 3 of the 5.6%-6.9%abv packaged lagers are Polish!; Coniston Old Man from Horsham is up for something; 2 Oregon beers & CharleWells are in another winning group; Schneider competes with 2 Russian/CIS beers in the wheat class; Tennents Super is on for a medal!; Liefmans will have something else to print on their crepe paper fruitbeer-wrappers soon (in addition to a Peterborough CAMRA prize); Manchester & Reading S&N breweries are competing one another to brew perfect Kronenbourg & also against Coor's Alton-brewed Grolsch!; & Everards Tigersmooth goes up against keg C.W.Bombardier & Sierra Nevada PaleAle! > >Personally , however much I enjoy a pint of say JHB , I never ask for > >a second. Other beers just seem to get better and better. > > Personally when I've run out of guest beers to try the JHB is always > waiting to save me. Its interesting enough for several pints and my > friends seem to agree.
I'm not your friend (nothing personal :~) but I do agree - it's certainly interesting enough for me - lovely stuff.
Re the OP, Chuck - I would simply guess maybe you got a few tired pints (poorly-kept, end of barrel or summat?) as I've had both TimTaylors & BlackSheep fairly regularly & recently & both have been good, distinctive & hoppy (plus - & I'm no big fan of ScotCo & the reborn Theakston's have yet to prove themselves, but I quite enjoyed a night-cap of OldPec fairly recently - not wonderful, but good).
It's hard to say what the trends are in brewing & drinking ales - pale/golden bitters are still 'in', hoppiness is cropping up more & more in my experience (& welcome it is too IMO). But lots of the bigger brands, last I tried them, seemed quite similar - crystal-malt tinged, medium bitterness, low in yeasty fruitiness, low in hop aroma/taste (e.g. national/regional brewery beers such as Tiger, Bombardier, GK Abbot IPA, & OldSpec, Theakston's, Courage, Bass, etc) cheers MikeMcG
Reply to
MikeMcG
> if we're talking about Beers of the Festival, is it my imagination, or > does there seem to be a disproportionate occurrence of breweries > winning the prizes in their local festivals By and large the ones local to me take a pretty fair look across the beer range they have. If anything for two of the branches the most likely bias would be to award it to a brewery that would be good for a branch weekend trip, but it would only be after a split decision. > - e.g. I can't remember a > year when Cain's didn't win in Liverpool & as good as they are, that > strikes me as odd at a festival which IMO always has a stunning > beerlist
Um. Cains appreciation society, hmmm...
-- Steve Pampling
--
Steve Pampling
Reply to
Steven Pampling
In message , Steven Pampling writes >> if we're talking about Beers of the Festival, is it my imagination, or >> does there seem to be a disproportionate occurrence of breweries >> winning the prizes in their local festivals > >By and large the ones local to me take a pretty fair look across the beer >range they have. If anything for two of the branches the most likely bias >would be to award it to a brewery that would be good for a branch weekend >trip, but it would only be after a split decision.
Beer of the Festival is usually decided by votes from the festival *visitors*, not the organisers. I view the frequent choice of local beers by mostly local festival visitors as a good thing. We spend enough time banging on about supporting local brewers, why seem so surprised when others actually do it?
-- Paul Shirley: email unwelcome, reply by news
--
Paul Shirley: email unwelcome, reply by news
Reply to
Paul Shirley
> In message , Steven Pampling > writes > >> if we're talking about Beers of the Festival, is it my imagination, > >> or does there seem to be a disproportionate occurrence of breweries > >> winning the prizes in their local festivals > > > >By and large the ones local to me take a pretty fair look across the > >beer range they have. If anything for two of the branches the most > >likely bias would be to award it to a brewery that would be good for a > >branch weekend trip, but it would only be after a split decision. > Beer of the Festival is usually decided by votes from the festival > *visitors*, not the organisers. and when the visitors produce a split decision someone adds a casting vote. > I view the frequent choice of local > beers by mostly local festival visitors as a good thing. Indeed. > We spend enough > time banging on about supporting local brewers, why seem so surprised > when others actually do it?
Who's surprised?
-- Steve Pampling
--
Steve Pampling
Reply to
Steven Pampling
> In message , Steven Pampling > writes > >> if we're talking about Beers of the Festival, is it my imagination, or > >> does there seem to be a disproportionate occurrence of breweries > >> winning the prizes in their local festivals > > > >By and large the ones local to me take a pretty fair look across the beer > >range they have. If anything for two of the branches the most likely bias > >would be to award it to a brewery that would be good for a branch weekend > >trip, but it would only be after a split decision. > > Beer of the Festival is usually decided by votes from the festival > *visitors*, not the organisers. I thought that was generally the case - tho I have heard rumours of local brewers being on blind tasting panels (...& shock! seeing as how they taste it every day...) recognising their own beer & really liking it :~) > I view the frequent choice of local beers by mostly local festival visitors > as a good thing. I am not saying it's inherently a bad thing - but 'beer of the festival' suggests an objective judgement of quality above the rest of the beers present at a fest & perhaps a blind judging of the public's top ten, (or some other suggestion?) might lessen the subjective effects of local loyalty. > We spend enough time banging on about supporting local brewers, why seem so > surprised when others actually do it?
Supporting local brewers is something I fully agree with (as you'd know if you've read almost any of my posts here) but IMO this is more complex than that - I don't believe that it is genuinely supportive to craft-brewing as a whole, to give festival awards to a brewery largely because it's based locally; and in doing so, perhaps sideline better beers from breweries further afield. (obvious exceptions of course would be regional competitions!) MikeMcG
Reply to
MikeMcG
> I thought that was generally the case - tho I have heard rumours of > local brewers being on blind tasting panels (...& shock! seeing as how > they taste it every day...) recognising their own beer & really liking > it :~)
Strange setup. The tasting panels I've been involved with are arranged to ensure the local brewer (where involved) doesn't have a beer in that category. Clearly this also means they can't be on the final panel if one of their beers carries through.
Having said that most knowledgeable tasters seem to identify the more interesting beers anyway since they are interesting because they are distinctive rather than run of the mill.
-- Steve Pampling
--
Steve Pampling
Reply to
Steven Pampling
In message , MikeMcG writes >I am not saying it's inherently a bad thing - but 'beer of the >festival' suggests an objective judgement of quality above the rest of >the beers present at a fest & perhaps a blind judging of the public's >top ten, (or some other suggestion?) might lessen the subjective >effects of local loyalty.
Only the most naive festival visitor could possibly assume that. The usual poor quality voting slip in the bottom of each glass should alert them how serious the vote is. The slightly more alert might wonder how a blind tasting could happen when votes are counted at the end of festivals/sessions, *after* the winning beer has often sold out!
Worth remembering the majority of festival visitors aren't sandal wearing beer experts, they're locals on a boozy night out. -- Paul Shirley: email unwelcome, reply by news
--
Paul Shirley: email unwelcome, reply by news
Reply to
Paul Shirley
>In message , MikeMcG > writes >>I am not saying it's inherently a bad thing - but 'beer of the >>festival' suggests an objective judgement of quality above the rest of >>the beers present at a fest & perhaps a blind judging of the public's >>top ten, (or some other suggestion?) might lessen the subjective >>effects of local loyalty. > >Only the most naive festival visitor could possibly assume that. The >usual poor quality voting slip in the bottom of each glass should alert >them how serious the vote is. The slightly more alert might wonder how a >blind tasting could happen when votes are counted at the end of >festivals/sessions, *after* the winning beer has often sold out! > >Worth remembering the majority of festival visitors aren't sandal >wearing beer experts, they're locals on a boozy night out.
Personally I think the beer of the festival slips are a waste of time. At the last fertival I visited, Reading, there were 365 cask beers IIRC. Even if somebody visits every session and drinks all beers in halves, how can they possibly make a sensible judgement about the best beer in the festival? They won't have tasted the vast majority.
Best regars, Paul -- Paul Sherwin Consulting
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Reply to
Paul Sherwin
> Personally I think the beer of the festival slips are a waste of time. > At the last fertival I visited, Reading, there were 365 cask beers > IIRC. Even if somebody visits every session and drinks all beers in > halves, how can they possibly make a sensible judgement about the best > beer in the festival? They won't have tasted the vast majority. >
For an individual that is true but I don't have a problem with collating the total results to form an overall winner.
-- Brett
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